- Lock your doors and windows
- Install good locks on doors and windows. Use them! Don't hide keys in mailboxes and planters or under doormats. Instead, leave an extra set of keys with a neighbor or friend.
- Be sure your street address number is large, clear of obstruction, and well lighted or reflective so police and other emergency personnel can find your home quickly.
- If someone is at the door, see who it is before opening the door. Ask strangers to give their name and show you I.D. If there is any doubt or concern call the company to verify that, a representative is scheduled to be at your residence or call the Sewanee Police Department.
- Be very careful whom you let in your home. Never allow a stranger in your home, even if they appear to be in distress or with a young child.
- Never agree to have work done on your home without getting at least three written estimates from reputable contractors whose identity and address have been checked.
- Never leave mail in your mailbox for the mail carrier to collect.
- Make a list of expensive items (jewelry, etc.). Take a picture of these items and store the details in a safe place.
- When walking to and from a store, always be aware of who is around you. Do not leave a purse or handbag trailing from your arm or shoulder.
- Consider a home alarm system that provides monitoring for burglary, fire, and medical emergencies.
- Don't keep large amounts of cash on hand.
- Don't take money from your bank account just because someone tells you to.
- Never give out personal details such as your bank account number, Social Security number or credit card number to any person over the telephone
- Check your bank statement carefully each month. If you have a trusted adult child, consider asking your bank to send a duplicate copy of the statement to that child so that another pair of eyes can check that there is no suspicious activity on your account.
- Buy a shredder and shred all unused credit card applications.
- Ask your bank to call you if any check over a certain amount is ever presented to that branch for payment.
- Never withdraw money for a stranger
- Beware of family members persuading you to sign deeds or assets over to them.
- Keep your checkbook and spare checks in a safe place.
- Use direct deposit for Social Security and other regular checks.
Frauds and Scams
- If someone calls you, (e.g., a telemarketer), don't be afraid to hang up on them.
- Stay away from deals that sound “too good to be true”.
- Beware of deals that ask for a lot of money up front and promise sure success. Get estimates before doing renovations. Do not pay for work in advance.
- Don't be taken in by miracle cures for health problems.
- Never give out personal information to strangers, such as a birthday or social security number.
- Do not agree to send money at the request of a telephone solicitor. Never give your credit card, phone card, Social Security, or bank account number to anyone over the phone. It's illegal for telemarketers to ask these numbers to verify a prize or gift.
- Don't let anyone rush you into signing anything - an insurance policy, a sales agreement, a contract. Read it carefully and have someone you trust check it over.
- Here are some examples of common scams:
- BOGUS CHARITIES - The senior is approached either at the door or by telephone with a request to donate to a legitimate sounding charity. Be very wary of such calls. Many so-called charities are bogus and the money is diverted directly into the pockets of the crooks.
- HOME IMPROVEMENT SCAMS - The victim is approached normally by at least two individuals posing as contractors. The unsuspecting victim is persuaded that a roof, driveway or home needs repairs. The strangers pretend to carry out the work, which is in fact, shoddy and almost worthless.
- THEFTS FROM WITHIN THE HOME - The victim is approached at the door by at least two individuals who use a ruse to enter the senior's home. Such ruses are a request to use the telephone or to get a glass of water. Once inside, one of the individuals will keep the senior occupied while the other individual rummages through the senior's personal belongings and steals cash and jewelry.
- BANK INVESTIGATOR SCHEME - The victim is contacted outside their bank or by telephone by a stranger who identifies himself as a member of law enforcement. The stranger asks for the senior's help in catching a dishonest bank employee. The senior is persuaded to go inside the bank to a particular teller window, withdraw a large sum of cash, and then meet the “official” outside. Once the senior hands over the cash, the stranger disappears with the money.
- SWEEPSTAKES SCAM - The victim receives a call either from Canada or from another part of the USA. The caller explains that the senior has won a substantial prize, but to collect that price, the senior must first send a money order for up to $4,000 by express mail.
- JURY SCAM – This is a scam where the victim receives a telephone call usually from a male, claiming to be a police detective or officer. The scammer will then tell the victim that they were scheduled for jury duty and failed to show and now have a warrant for their arrest. The caller will tell the victim in order to not be arrested to go and obtain gift cards, iTunes cards, etc… and call them back with the card numbers. *** NOTE *** Law Enforcement will never ask for a gift card in lieu of arrest.
- FAMILY EMERGENCY SCAM - grandchild, cousin, or other close relative. The scammer will pose as a relative or a friend of a relative, and ask you to wire money, give a credit card number, and get a gift card or iTunes card immediately. The person will be in a hurry talking panicked and fast to keep you off guard and from answering questions. The person will mumble a name a lot of times hoping that you give the name of who you think it is on the phone. They will say there is an emergency and are in need of money immediately. They will claim they are in jail and need money to get out, paying an emergency room bill, or needing money to get out of a foreign country. Their goal is to rush you into a fast decision to give your money over to them.
To review the latest scams being used to scam people please refer to the Federal Trade Commission Sam Alert Page.