POINT PLEASANT — Senior citizen safety has unfortunately become a concern in today’s society and several Mason County seniors recently learned a few tips to avoid becoming a victim of crimes such as prescription drug theft, home invasion and identity theft.
Earlier this week, U.S. Attorney Booth Goodwin spoke on these topics to a crowd of local senior citizens at the Mason County Action Group/Gene Salem Senior Center in a pursuit to help stop these types of crimes against elderly West Virginians. Goodwin has also recently visited senior citizens in Nicolas, Fayette, Summers, Boone, Jackson and Kanawha counties discussing these safety tips.
Goodwin said some of the tips are considered to be “common sense” tips, but are worth repeating and sharing because these simple tips could make a world of difference.
Concerning financial scams, Goodwin stated seniors should never give personal information over the phone or by e-mail. Goodwin stated scammers are getting creative and often research and pose as family members asking for money or as someone working to provide relief efforts for a natural disaster, like Superstorm Sandy. Goodwin encouraged seniors if in a situation like this to verify the person’s identity and if something seems suspicious to contact the police.
“Protecting elderly West Virginians is one of our offices main priorities,” Goodwin said.
Another major concern Goodwin addressed is prescription drug theft. Goodwin said seniors are more likely to have prescription drugs, such as painkillers from a hip or knee replacement or another major operation, and are often targeted. Goodwin also said drug dealers are often after prescription drugs rather than other drugs because they can be sold for around $250 a pill on the street.
In his tips to avoid this crime, Goodwin stated seniors shouldn’t talk any more than necessary about any prescription drugs they have in their home. Also, if senior citizens need to dispose of old medication, Goodwin advised seniors not to flush it down the toilet, but if possible take it to a prescription drug take back day, often held by local law enforcement, or mix the remaining pills with coffee grounds or cat litter and throw them in the trash.
Some other tips Goodwin discussed included the following:
- Eliminating possible hiding places around your home such as bushes and trees. Bright outside lighting can also help eliminate hiding places around your home.
- If there is a stranger at your door, resist answering it. Ask the person who they are and if it seems suspicious, call 911 and stay on the phone until someone arrives.
- Stay in touch with your neighbors.
- Invest in good locks for doors and windows and don’t hide keys in places such as the mailbox or under doormats.
For more tips, as well as additional information on Goodwin’s work to help protect senior citizens, visit www.justice.gov/usao/wvs/safe-seniors.html.