Tuesday, June 25, 2013

How safe are you? | By Angela Gaughan

Personal safety is important at any age. I recently attended the Positive Aging: Protect Your Health, Wealth and Self conference for seniors. In addition to sharing information about our support group database (SupportGroupsInKansas.org), I also learned a few things.
I sat in on the Veteran’s Administration presentation, said hi to an old friend who was taking about advanced directives and learned a few things in the social networking session. At the end of the day I attended a class on personal safety and when it was over I had more tips than I could fit into this blog post. The session was facilitated by Deputy Joe Page with the Sedgwick County Sheriff’s Office.
Deputy Page shared information about a program for S.E.N.I.O.R.S. (Sheriff's Elderly/Disabled Notification Intensive Outreach Response System) where you can register your name, address, garage door code, medications, pet’s name, etc. If someone calls 911 from your address, the information is retrieved and may help emergency personal avoid kicking in your front door (a $500 expense). Your information is privately stored in a computer. https://ssc.sedgwickcounty.org/seniors/
Whether at home or at the office you may find that one or two of these tips will help you avoid being a victim of identity theft or being physically attacked:
  • Lock your doors and windows
  • Trim your bushes, thieves want to be hidden from the road
  • Close your garage door and the front door of your house when you are working in the backyard
  • You know what is right for your neighborhood, etc. if something looks suspicious, *call 911 and say that you have a non-emergency. If there is an officer/deputy in the area, they will stop by and check it out. That is how they catch bad guys with vans full of stolen items.
  • Don't let strangers into your house--they might be looking around to see what they can come back and steal.
  • Get 2-3 estimates before you have any work done on your home. If it sounds too good to be true, it is. Vendors should have a local address and office phone number. Scammers target seniors (especially those who don't move very fast and can't see very well).
  • Buy a shredder! Shred your mail – anything with your name and address on it.
  • Review your bank statement.
  • Invest in a locked mailbox. Don’t have checks mailed to your house, call and arrange for direct deposit into your bank account.
  • Everyone can get a free credit report each year from three credit bureaus -- space them out and request one every four months to keep an eye on your credit history.
  • Lock your car.
  • Hide your valuables--don't let people see you put them in your trunk.
  • Be aware of your surroundings—call 911 and report a non-emergency, if needed.
  • NEVER give your credit card number, PIN number, social security number, etc. over the phone. Your bank will never call and ask for this information.
  • There's a new scam where the caller says that your computer has a virus or needs an update and you need to get to your computer right now and give them access. Next they put a virus on your computer, download your personal data and make it so that you have to pay to have it fixed.
Hope to see you at the conference next year. I’ll be at the black and gold booth with a basket of chocolates. Even seniors like chocolates.
The conference was hosted by the K-State Research and Extension, Wichita State University and the Central Plains Area Agency on Aging. It was held at the Sedgwick County Extension Education Center.

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