Thursday, December 20, 2018

Tips for Staying Safe at Home and on the Street - Part 1

By Carrie Vittitoe

Safety may become more of a concern as people age for a number of reasons. If you are an adult child, maybe you notice a loved one is having more frequent “senior moments.” If you are a senior, maybe you are now alone at home after the passing of a spouse. Maybe you have gotten a smartphone and are figuring out how to keep your online information as safe as possible. With the help of Paul Fowler, an LMPD detective with the Crimes Against Seniors Unit, this list will hopefully give you some new strategies and tools to consider to keep yourself as safe as possible.

Know Where Your Wallet or Purse Is
If you are shopping, be sure you have your wallet or purse with you at all times. Fowler says older adults are frequently targeted at grocery stores. “Someone will say, ‘Can you help me in the pasta aisle?’ and when the person returns to her cart, her purse is gone,” he says. Shopping with an over-the-shoulder bag might be a better idea than keeping your purse in the cart.

Don’t Open Email From People You Don’t Know
A common email scam sends a virus in an attachment. When that attachment is opened, it locks up a person’s computer, and often the only way to “free” the device is to pay a ransom. If an email comes from someone you don’t know, delete it.

Avoid Unsolicited Offers
If someone comes to the door asking if your roof needs to be repaired or your driveway needs to be sealed, Fowler urges people not to hire them. He says it is best to not make quick decisions about any kind of home repair or improvement. If work needs to be done at your home, get referrals from people you know and trust, rather than simply hiring someone who comes to your door and who may take your money and not do a good job — or do the job at all.

Invest in a Password Manager
Whether you use a computer or a smartphone, it is a good idea to have some kind of password manager, which not only keeps your passwords within easy reach even when you’re not at home but can automatically update your passwords the moment you change them. While some password managers offer free versions, others may cost around $30 per year.

Communicate With Your Family 
Fowler has seen men and women fall prey to “sweetheart scams,” in which a person on a dating platform asks for money and urges the individual he is scamming to keep the relationship (and the money request) a secret. Before making any kind of big decision, romantic or financial, Fowler suggests individuals discuss it with their family members or friends.

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