Completing any project requires tools. Survival is no different. In fact, it is a project that your life depends on. It only makes sense to have the proper tools. Although there are many important aspects to a successful survival strategy, the tools you rely on are crucial. Firearms, knives, and other weapons serve many purposes. Food procurement is imperative in a survival situation. Self-defense is another consideration. Knives can also be used for everything from preparing a meal to aiding in a construction project on the survival homestead.
When selecting gear for your survival kit, the key trait should be versatility. Specialized tools are required for some jobs but the most valuable survival tools are those that can be used for many different purposes. The good news is that with a little bit of knowledge, selecting gear that is practical and versatile is not all that difficult.
Firearms are an essential part of a survival plan. There are a variety of different firearms available that have unique traits specific to one or two uses. For instance, a pistol is great for self-defense in close-quarters combat or for dispatching an animal caught in a trap. Shotguns excel at hunting waterfowl and other flying prey and second as excellent self-defense weapons. Rifles are best suited for long range shooting duties such as when hunting large game. Ideally, you own all three types of weapons along with a sufficient ammunition supply for each. That ensures that you are well-equipped no matter what situation you find yourself. At the very least, understanding the limitations of each weapon allows you to choose what option is best for you.
1. Pistols can provide exceptional stopping power while remaining compact and easily concealed. Especially in an urban survival setting, the ability to conceal your weapon allows you to avoid unnecessary confrontation. Like any survival tool, reliability is important. As a result, the best pistols are usually single action revolvers. Although these pistols may not have the capacity of semi-automatic models, the presence of fewer moving parts translates to greater reliability in a world devoid of gunsmiths and spare part suppliers.
A pistol should be large caliber. Smaller calibers such as the .22 are simply not effective enough in a post-apocalyptic world. Staying with the theme of versatility, there is one pistol that stands out as a sure bet. The Taurus Judge is a compact revolver capable of shooting the .45 Colt cartridge. This round is well-known for its stopping power and accuracy. What makes the Judge unique is that it can also shoot .410 gauge shotgun shells. Although the .410 cartridge isn’t suitable for large game hunting, it is perfect for small game and bird hunting. Accuracy of a handgun will never be as good as a long-barrel gun but the Judge gives you options as a survivor by allowing you to quickly change between ammunition types depending on the situation.
2. A shotgun is versatile by design because the type of shell can be changed depending on the intended usage. When hunting large game, a shotgun is effective when loaded with slugs or buckshot. For shooting birds and small game animals, specialized shells with more pellets are used.
A good shotgun should offer reliability and few have proven this more than the Remington 870 Express. The pump-action design of this weapon lasts for years with minimal maintenance. It is effective as a hunting instrument while being an admirable self-defense tool as well. Other considerations include the Mossberg 590 and the Weatherby PA-459. Whenever possible, stay away from semi-automatic shotguns. Although their reliability is often on par with pump-action designs, the complicated mechanisms are almost impossible to fix without the help of a trained gunsmith and specialized tools.
3. Rifles are required to hunt many species of large game. The heightened senses of these animals makes approaching within shotgun or pistol range nearly impossible. Bolt-action rifles tend to be the most reliable and easy to maintain although some semi-automatic models are adequate as survival weapons as well.
The .30-06 is one the most versatile calibers for a survival rifle. Although it is often too powerful to use against small animals, its range and accuracy make it a long range killing machine capable of taking down practically any game animal in North America. As a defensive weapon, the .30-06 is an excellent choice for defending your position from distant enemies before they get too close. Fitted with a decent scope, these rifles have an effective range of nearly 1,000 yards. Hundreds of manufacturers produce rifles chambered for the .30-06 cartridge. Look for one with a history of reliability such the Remington 700 or Winchester Model 70 to ensure the longevity of your weapon.
A common misconception about survival knives is that they need to big “Rambo” style knives. In most cases, knives like that are not practical for survival situations.
A smaller, fixed blade knife is better suited to most duties including field dressing animals, cutting rope, and many other tasks. Some newer model survival knives actually have a magnesium fire starter built into the handle. By striking the back of the blade against the magnesium bar, you are able to start a fire even in damp conditions. Gerber manufactures a knife like this under the Bear Grylls series of knives offered by the company.
In addition to a fixed blade general purpose knife, a short blade machete is also useful to have. This blade can be used for heavier duty tasks such as clearing a path through dense foliage, cutting down small trees, and as a formidable self-defense weapon. Easily carried in a sheath on your belt, a short blade machete can prove to be a valuable asset in your quest for survival.
The tools you have available to you in a survival situation are an asset overshadowed only by your own will to survive. Having a versatile selection of survival weapons can provide a sustainable food source and protect you from the many unprepared people looking to capitalize on your preparedness. _______________________
Successful burglars have lots in common — home owners who unwittingly give invitations to robbery. Here’s how thieves thank you for your generosity.
Leaving boxes by the curb alongside the trash lets burglars know you've got new toys inside. Image: Liz Foreman for HouseLogic
You come home to an open front door, a ransacked house, and missing valuables. How did a burglar know you’d be gone? How did they get in?
In these 10 thank-you notes, your friendly neighborhood burglars share advice on how to stop lending them a helping hand.
1. Thanks for the ladder!
Call me a social climber if you will, but I did discover a ladder in your back yard. Thank you for leaving it where I could lean it against your home and easily reach a second-story window. I really love it when upper story openings aren’t wired to a home security system!
So, if you want to keep me out, store your ladder in the basement or a locked garage. And call your security company to wire upper-story windows into your alarm system.
Vertically yours, A rising star
2. Loved your trash
Can’t tell you how much fun I have driving around neighborhoods on trash day (especially after big gift holidays) when the empty boxes on the curb reveal what wonderful new toys you have. Your thoughtfulness made it possible for me to land a new laptop and a flat-screen television in one easy trip to your home!
Next time, break down the boxes and conceal them in the recycling or trash bins.
Happy shopping! Curbside Cruiser
3. Dear Can’t-Get-Around-to-It
Recently, I noticed you hadn’t trimmed trees and shrubs around your home, so I knew I’d have a wonderful place to hide while I worked to break into your home. I really can’t thank you enough for all the great new things I grabbed.
Next time, trim back bushes and trees near windows and doors. Make sure entry points to your home are easily visible from the street — I much prefer to work in private! While you’re at it, install motion-sensor lighting. I’m scared of bright lights!
Cordially, The Tree Lover
4. Su casa es mi casa!
I was sincerely relieved to find your back door was a plain wood-panel door. I had no trouble kicking it in (my knees appreciate how easy that was!) Imagine how silly I felt when I discovered that your windows weren’t locked anyway.
You may want to take a cue from your neighbor and install steel-wrapped exterior doors with deadbolts on all your entries. And be sure your windows are locked when you’re away.
All the best, Buster Door
5. Bad reflection on you.
You’d be surprised how many home owners position a mirror in their entry hall so I can see from a window if the alarm system is armed. (Yours wasn’t, but I’m guessing you know that by now!) Thanks for taking a lot of pressure off of me.
A little free advice: Relocate the mirror so your alarm system isn’t visible if someone else would peer through a window.
Fondly, Mr. Peeper
6. The telltale grass
Wow, isn’t it amazing how fast the grass grows these days? I swung by now and then and noticed your lawn was uncut, newspapers were piling up on the front steps, and your shades were always closed. To me, that’s an open invitation.
Next time, hire someone you trust to mow regularly, pick up around the doorstep, open and close various window shades, and turn different lights on and off (or put a few on timers). One more thing: Lock any car you leave in the driveway, or I can use your garage door opener to get in quickly.
Best, Your Trip Advisor
7. Getting carried away
Many thanks for putting your valuables into an easy-to-carry safe that I could carry right out your back door. (Nice jewelry, and thank you for the cash!)
You may want to invest in a wall safe, which I rarely attempt to open. Or, rent a lock box at your bank.
With appreciation, Mr. Safe and Not-So-Sound
8. Dear BFF
Thanks for alerting a professional acquaintance of mine via your social network that you were away for the week in Puerto Vallarta, having the time of your life. Me? I enjoyed a very relaxing visit to your home with no pressure of being caught.
If only you had known that posting comments and photos of your trip on social networks is fine — but do that after you return so you won’t broadcast your absence!
Sincerely, Cyber Savvy
9. Tag, you’re it!
Where are you? When you use popular geo-tracking apps, such as FourSquare and Glympse, I might know if you’re not home. Web sites such as www.pleaserobme.com help me keep track of your whereabouts.
If you prefer that I not visit your home, be careful about geo-tagging. But, otherwise, thank you for the loot!
— Just Tagging Along
10. Thanks for the appointment
Thanks for inviting me into your home to view the laptop you wanted to sell. I do apologize for the scare I gave you when I took it (and your purse).
Did you know that some large U.S. cities are averaging one so-called “robbery by appointment” per day? If you want to sell high-ticket items to strangers, I suggest you arrange to meet at the parking lot of your local police station. I definitely won’t show up, and you’ll still have your valuables (and your purse!)
Financial guide for widows: building creditWhen used strategically, credit can soften the financial blow By Tamara E. Holmes | Updated: April 2, 2018 Personal Finance Writer Writes regularly about personal finance and health Losing a spouse is one of the most traumatic experiences one can endure. If you are a widow, the emotional toll can be compounded by financial challenges. However, credit can be used strategically to help you get through the tough times and rebuild your life. Each year, more than 700,000 women in the United States become widows, according to Widows Well, a service that strives to help widows make sound financial choices. For these women, the financial impact can be devastating. American widows on average face a 37 percent decline in household income when their spouse dies, compared to widowers, who experience a 22 percent drop, the U.S. Government Accountability Office has found. Carole Brody Fleet learned firsthand how financially devastating a spouse’s death can be when her husband died of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), a disease often referred to as Lou Gehrig’s disease, that affects nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord. “I was that person where months would come where I had to choose between the payment on my daughter’s braces or making a full mortgage payment,” she recalls. While Brody Fleet’s story is not unusual, credit can soften the blow. Using credit to help pay for the funeralOne of the first financial challenges a widow might face is how to pay for her husband’s funeral. The national median cost of a funeral and burial is $7,360, according to the National Funeral Directors Association. If your spouse had a life insurance policy and you are the beneficiary, you could use the money to pay for the funeral, but you may not receive the proceeds in time for the service. In this case, credit can tide you over if you pay for the service with a credit card and then pay the card off once the life insurance settlement is disbursed. Even if there is no life insurance policy, you can charge the funeral costs on a 0 percent APR credit card with a 12- to 15-month promotional offer and take the year to pay off the balance. Beware of credit scams targeting widows Another early challenge for widows is the threat of fraud. Identity thieves have been known to scour obituaries and use a deceased person’s information to open credit card accounts or apply for loans, says Eva Velasquez, president and CEO of the Identity Theft Resource Center. To reduce this risk:
Send a copy of the death certificate to each of the credit reporting bureaus and ask them to put a “deceased alert” on the credit report of the deceased individual.
Request the credit report of your husband and review it to see if any active credit accounts need to be closed. The Identity Theft Resource Center offers a sample letter you can download and send to the credit bureaus.
Scammers also are on the hunt for widows who are not accustomed to handling the family finances, Velasquez says. For example, an older widow who didn’t work outside the home might be contacted by a scammer who tells her that her husband owes him money. "SUDDENLY I HAD AN ELECTRIC BILL THAT WAS TWO MONTHS PAST DUE. THERE ARE SO MANY THINGS THAT GO ON AFTER YOU LOSE SOMEONE THAT IT'S EASY TO GET BEHIND."To protect yourself, pick a trusted friend or family member and use him or her as a sounding board, Velasquez says. “Let them know, ‘I’m going to need your help while I’m getting through this, and I’m going to have to run a lot of stuff past you.’ Make that your golden rule.” A widow’s financial checklistIf your spouse has recently died, your finances must become a priority. Take the following steps to protect your credit and get your financial house in order. (Download as a PDF.) 1. Figure out how much money you have to work with. Gather documents such as bank and credit card statements, insurance plans, mortgage papers, automobile titles and recent tax returns. Also, identify assets such as savings and investment accounts. If you work, take an honest look at your salary to see whether it, alone, can support your lifestyle. Determine whether there is a life insurance policy for which you are the beneficiary and contact other potential providers of income such as the Social Security Administration, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs or your spouse’s employer. 2. Get a handle on the bills. When Christina Polovich lost her husband of 13 years, grief left her in a fog. “Suddenly I had an electric bill that was two months past due,” she says. “There are so many things that go on after you lose someone that it’s easy to get behind.” To make sure you stay on track, write down the due dates for all monthly bills, or better yet, set up automatic bill payments so you don’t rack up late fees. 3. See where you can cut expenses.Update your budget to reflect your new reality, says Martin Lynch, education director for Cambridge Credit Counseling in Agawam, Massachusetts. If you’re not on your utility providers’ budget plans, enroll in them, Lynch suggests. “You want your monthly budget to be as predictable as possible.” If you fall behind on your rent, mortgage or other bills, contact your creditors to try to work out a payment plan. 4. Close or convert accounts. If you and your spouse had joint accounts, send the company a copy of the death certificate and ask that the account be put in your name. Close any accounts that were in your spouse’s name only. Some financial institutions may also require you to reapply on your own on previously held joint accounts. 5. Address your spouse’s debts.Confirm that all debts for which your spouse may have been liable to pay have been satisfied by the proceeds of his or her estate. If you live in a community property state, this may be more complicated. There are 10 states that have community property laws: Arizona, California, Idaho, Louisiana, Nevada, New Mexico, Texas, Washington, Wisconsin and Alaska. (Alaska’s community property laws are on an opt-in basis.) In community property states, assets and debts that a couple amassed during the marriage may be deemed joint property. That means you could be on the hook for loans or credit card debt that your husband racked up before his death. If you do end up having to pay off your deceased husband’s debt, transferring the balance to a zero-interest or low-interest credit card could help you to spend less on interest and pay off the debt faster. Financial resources for widowsThere are services and programs that can help widows regain their financial footing. Here are some resources you may be able to tap. Resources for elderly widowsAn elderly widow is less likely to be working and may have to rely on a fixed income. Without a salary, elderly widows are more dependent on the assets the family has already built. Medical bills and expensive prescriptions are also a concern for many elderly widows, says Cindy Hounsell, president of the Women’s Institute for a Secure Retirement. If you’re 65 or over, you may be eligible for Medicare. Widows who are 60 or over may be eligible for monthly Social Security benefits. Identify other income you may be eligible for, such as pensions, life insurance, retirement accounts and brokerage accounts. Resources for widows with young childrenWhen Maureen Bobo became a widow, her daughters were 8 years old and 2 months old and the family had to downsize. “Widows with children have to look at education and things like music lessons and gymnastics. A lot of things just have to be put aside,” Bobo says. If you have limited income and dependent children, you may qualify for federal or state assistance programs, Lynch says. There are also organizations that may offer assistance. The Liz Logelin Foundation, for example, provides financial grants to help widows with young children to take care of short-term needs. Don’t forget to reach out to churches or other organizations you belong to. “Many churches have funds available for parishioners going through events like this,” Lynch says. Resources for military widows If you’re a military widow, one of the first places to go for support is the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. That agency’s Office of Survivors Assistance can provide you with information about benefits and services for which you may qualify. The Veterans’ Wives International Network also can help. The organization will not only point you toward potential resources you may qualify for, but the agency will help you through the process of applying for them. The Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors is another organization that offers educational assistance, and can help you to identify potential resources. Using credit to build a strong financial futureSome widows never managed the family finances. For example, Chasity Williams found herself struggling to figure out how to file the family’s taxes the year after her husband died. “He did the financial planning and the taxes so I had no clue,” she says. She eventually found a tax professional and did a ton of research on her own to get up to speed. Today, Williams helps other widows adjust to their new lives as president of the Hope for Widows Foundation. "HE DID THE FINANCIAL PLANNING AND THE TAXES SO I HAD NO CLUE."Another challenge some widows face is credit. In some cases, the widow depended on her husband’s credit for loans and credit cards. And for some widows, their husbands may have had the stronger credit history. They may now find themselves having to improve their credit score and apply for credit on their own. Regardless of what stage of life you are in, credit can be an asset. Not only can a credit card be used for a financial emergency, but widows can take advantage of rewards and other perks that can enhance their lifestyles. Check your credit score to see where you stand. With a higher score, you will “earn lower interest rates, saving you money,” Lynch says. To improve your credit, pay your bills on time and try not to let your account balances reach more than 25 percent of the cards’ limits, Lynch advises. If you have no credit history, applying for a department store credit card or a secured credit card can help you build one. When shopping for a credit card, look for one that has rewards that fit your new lifestyle and compare the pluses and minuses of each. For example, you may be choosing between the Chase Freedom vs. Chase Sapphire Preferred card. The Chase Sapphire Preferred card may be the better choice if you want to travel, while the Freedom card could satisfy your desire for cash back. When your world is turned upside down by a spouse’s death or any traumatic situation, give yourself plenty of time and patience to turn things around. “Time may not heal the wound opened by the death of your loved one, but it can give you perspective on your financial options,” Lynch says. __________________________
Aug. 3rd: WANT A FREE & CLEVER BURGLAR ALARM...that could save your life? Put your car keys beside your bed at night! SHARE THIS GREAT IDEA!
"Tell your spouse, your children, your neighbors, your parents, your Dr's office, the check-out girl at the market, everyone you run across. Put your car keys beside your bed at night.
If you hear a noise outside your home or someone trying to get in your house, just press the panic button for your car. The alarm will be set off, and the horn will continue to sound until either you turn it off or the car battery dies.
This tip came from a neighborhood watch coordinator. Next time you come home for the night and you start to put your keys away, think of this: It's a security alarm system that you probably already have and requires no installation. Test it. It will go off from most everywhere inside your house and will keep honking until your battery runs down or until you reset it with the button on the key fob chain. It works if you park in your driveway or garage.
If your car alarm goes off when someone is trying to break into your house, odds are the burglar/rapist won't stick around. After a few seconds, all the neighbors will be looking out their windows to see who is out there and sure enough the criminal won't want that. And remember to carry your keys while walking to your car in a parking lot. The alarm can work the same way there. This is something that should really be shared with everyone. Maybe it could save a life or a sexual abuse crime.
P.S. I am sending this to everyone I know because I think it is fantastic. Would also be useful for any emergency, such as a heart attack, where you can't reach a phone. My Mom has suggested to my Dad that he carry his car keys with him in case he falls outside and she doesn't hear him. He can activate the car alarm and then she'll know there's a problem." ___________________________
Wed., Apr. 3rd:
For those planning on 'Bugging In' some thought needs to made how to protect your home from looters. When it comes down to: survival of you and your loved ones or a stranger? Here are some ideas on how to fix up your home on the Cheap. Get a good Dead Bolt with Key for your front and back doors that has at least a one inch bolt. Keep the key OUT of the lock, put it nearby for emergencies. Then for your windows there's plywood (you will feel like you are in a cave after a short time) or get 3M Safety & Security Film from Home Depot put on your windows. It is on the windows of all embassies around the world, and on all the windows along the parade route at DisneyWorld due the influx of people during the parades. That way no one will be hurt by glass. It will hold up to cement blocks being thrown at it or being beaten with a hammer. The glass with shatter, but not break. by: Barb's Bulletins _________________________
Mon., Feb. 11th:
Survival Without Firearms - The current furor over the threat of a new round of restrictive firearms laws in the aftermath of the Sandy Hook killings has gotten me to think further about what kinds of weapons we might choose to protect ourselves. By Dr. John J. Woods, a contributing author to SurvivalCache.com
Here we are talking about defensive modes of protecting ourselves against any uninvited menace that might befall us. However, and intended only as a sidebar, consider also if we were to find ourselves without traditional defensive firearms, then some of these same weapons choices could also be as easily applied effectively in an offensive mode. How does the government intend to protect us against these tools?
Which of these “weapons” could be used for self-protection, an AR-15, 1911 in 45ACP, a wheel gun revolver in .357 Magnum, a swing blade, combat knife, screwdriver, ball peen hammer, a pipe wrench, sledge hammer, machete, 12-gauge shotgun, an ax, a 30-06 deer rifle, a ball bat, length of log chain, or a Kaiser blade?
The Prepper Scenario A common thread among the planning tactics for both Bug Out and Bug In preppers is the concept that we might eventually be confronted by rogue groups or a solo assault of “zombies”, common criminals, starving crowds of non-preppers, aggressive neighbors, or others just wishing to take from you what you have.
We tend to rely on a first front of defense using firearms. There is no need for an in depth discussion of that here. Our arsenal would likely include rifles, shotguns, and handguns. Any types and all types in a wide range of suitable (or not) cartridges chambered for self-defense or property protection can expected to be found in stock.
A gross generalization of a tactical stance would be to use rifles for long(er) range defense or deterrent, shotguns with buckshot (not slugs) could be used for closer ranges, but perhaps not point blank, but maybe. Handguns would most likely be relegated to close quarters work.
Hopefully what you choose to use works for you best because you are confident and skilled in the use of the weapons choices you have made. If not, then get there as soon as it is feasible.
But in all of this keep in mind that despite the fact that you may have an ample supply of firearms and ammo available to defend or protect yourself, family, and escape hide out partners there are other alternative tools to consider. Plus there may be times when a firearm is not the closest defensive tool within reach.
On the Cutting Edge I am not a knife fighter or blade expert. My plan is to be the one that brings a loaded 1911 Kimber to the knife fight, but being a realist I know that might not always happen. Still I have a wide selection of blades, long and short, fixed blades, folders, meat cleaver types, pocketknives, fish filleting knives, and nearly everything else in between. While most of my blades are not designed for defense, at some level any one of them could be pressed into service likely with varying results.
I do not harbor a desire for that kind of hands on self defense work. But what if we get faced with a situation in which that is the first or only option? Then some training is called for as well as keeping such tools within reasonable reach just in case. Knives may not draw attention like a firearm, so it is reasonable to add these to your kit.
One of the characters on the program Doomsday Preppersbelieves one of the critical weapons to his theoretical “circle of seven” tools of self defense needs to include a samurai type sword or other similar long blade with a long handle or hand grip. There are many such tools on the market made by outfits like Cold Steel, Gerber, and others. Even hardware stores and farm supply outlets will have a variety of tools that are for brush cutting and other heavy duty cutting/hacking tasks. Add these to the mix.
Blunt Force Instruments As we work around the house or at a bug out escape location, we are highly likely to have a variety of impromptu weapons around. We might think we’ll always have a firearm within reach, but maybe not. If someone comes up on you in the workshop, garage, or storage shed, what might you grab to defend yourself?
Viewing another movie recently of the fictitious zombie genre’ I was taken by the choice of a sledgehammer as a tool of offensive and defensive self defense by one of the actors. Understanding that depiction was “Hollywood” nevertheless it spirited my consideration of such heavy tools as a possible weapon of choice. A ten pound hammer may not be a first choice, but it could an effective one at any rate. A forward thrust to the throat or knee cap is likely to change the course of an aggressor.
Now I own a mega sledge and I would be the first to admit I would not want to tote that thing around all day. At camp I strap it in the carry rack of the ATV. At my age swinging a sledge about ten times is the equivalent of trying to do twenty pushups. Good luck with that. My point is to consider the defensive strategies with any tool you might buy for bug in home or bug out camp use.
Look in your garage on your pegboard wall or in your tool boxes. See what items in there could be used as a last resort grab. Perhaps all this sounds too elementary, but when is the last time you thought about taking a shovel off the wall to defend yourself?
Consider other tools as well. What about a pipe wrench, a rake, heavy long shaft screwdriver, pry bar, broom, claw hammer, or any number of dozens of other implements found around the house. At the very least consider thinking through the process.
Again, I don’t personally promote close quarters essentially hand-to-hand confrontations. It’s only that whatever we are prepping for or planning for will likely not work out exactly as we had imagined.
Choosing and selecting weapons for our prepping strategies does not automatically imply the sole source of self-defense tools have to be firearms. In reality and practice, I think we all intend to include that component, but there are many other options to have at the hand if needed
Holding Your Ground
Publication Date: June 6, 2011 HOLDING YOUR GROUND is an instructional guide and planning tool that addresses defensive preparation of a location. If the government can no longer protect your home, farm or property, HOLDING will teach you how. HOLDING covers virtually every aspect of protecting you and your family in the event society breaks down. Many people have preparations for food, water, shelter and personal defense. HOLDING will teach you how to configure your home, train your team, and properly equip any location for defense. Covering topics ranging from hiding in plain sight to pre-positioning of supplies, HOLDING uses common sense, military tactics and historical examples that allow you to prepare for defense without affecting your property's value or appearance. Rating 4/5
Fraud Prevention Checklist New technology & communication, while opening the door for many positive avenues of progress, also makes us more susceptible as targets for scammers. These individuals reach out to as many people as possible under some guise until they find someone who falls for their tricks. The range of tricks being used by such scammers is always growing and evolving. While you cannot know the details of each one of them, you can get a sense of the general types of scams out there. Today’s seniors came from a generation raised to accumulate savings, to trust others, and to feel ashamed if they make any mistakes that feel “foolish”. Because of their advanced age, it may take awhile for seniors to remember the events associated with the fraud and, when they finally do, the memories are somewhat faded. Additionally, because advanced age can cause increased reliance on caregivers, family, and friends, abuse and fraud can happen with those individuals as well, breaking trust and taking advantage of need. The answer is absolutely not to resist asking for help, but to educate yourself so that you can recognize the signs of any problems and intervene appropriately. Based on the National Council on Aging’s “Top 10 Scams Targeting Seniors,” we’ve assembled a checklist of steps you can take to prevent falling prey to fraud. Review this list with your loved ones, checking off items as you complete them and making notes for future steps. It might be a good idea to print out this list and keep it by the phone/mail spot in the house. On a personal note, this story hits very close to home: my husband’s grandmother was recently conned out of $9,000 when a caller from Vegas pretended to be her grandson – with whom she hadn’t spoken on the phone for awhile – and claimed to have run into some financial trouble, such that he now needed both a plane ticket back home as well as some money wired over. This caller begged the grandmother “not to tell anyone” about what he was going through since it was so embarrassing. – MV Table of Contents
“Hi Grandma, it’s me…” – The Grandparent Scam
“I’d like to help you deal with your loss…” – Death scams
“Let’s reassess your home” – Real estate scams
“Hi, I’m a Medicare Representative…” – Medicare fraud
“Affordable prescriptions available here…” – Drug scams
“With modern science, who needs wrinkles?” Fake anti-aging products
“Update! Click here…” – Internet fraud (including email/phishing)
“I am a Nigerian prince…” – Financial schemes
“You’ve won the lottery!” Contest scams
“Hello there, we need your help!” – Bogus Telemarketers
“Hi Grandma, it’s me…” – The Grandparent Scam
As described above, scammers will call seniors claiming to be a grandchild in distress, requesting assistance and also discretion – both easy to obtain from the loving grandparent eager to help. [ ] Make a list of family contacts, and if you ever receive a distress call, make sure you’re able to confirm the distress through contact initiated by you. [ ] Never give out your personal information. [ ] Never wire money except through a bank wire transfer, which requires confirmation of identity from the recipient. More information:
“I’d like to help you deal with your loss…” – Death scams
There are many potential avenues for death scams, from claiming a fraudulent outstanding debt on behalf of the recently deceased through overcharging individuals for funeral costs. [ ] Always ask for a written price list in advance of your visit. [ ] Never consult with just one funeral home. Shop around to better understand the services and products offered. [ ] Check your state laws on embalming, autopsy, and other issues concerning death. [ ] Make sure you read through and understand all of the details of the contract, including cancelation and refund policies. Do not hesitate to ask for more time to read through, to take the documents home and process. If anyone tries to pressure you to sign right away, leave; you should never be forced to sign a document under pressure. More information:
Using fake letters from the local assessor’s office promising reassessment with potential reduction in annual tax burden for the homeowner, scammers will artificially alter the value of a home to then encourage the homeowner to take a reverse mortgage. [ ] Always be wary of unsolicited phone calls or other contact. [ ] Always ask for references on the person/group contacting you, and be sure to research them online using sources like Google, Yelp, etc. Ask for help from a family member, friend, or even your local librarian. [ ] Never pay for any services in advance. [ ] Never sign any documents without reading and understanding them in their entirety, as well as running them past your most trustworthy contact. More information:
“Hi, I’m a Medicare Representative…” – Medicare fraud
A phone call from someone claiming to be a Medicare representative to a senior aged 65 or older is too often enough to obtain personal information, which can then be used to file false claims and extort money from the system. [ ] Don’t give anyone your Medicare or Social Security number or card, outside of your doctor/authorized Medicare provider. [ ] Keep track of your doctor’s appointments and check that your Medicare statements line up with the services you were provided. [ ] Don’t bend to pressure to buy any products or services on the spot; always ask for literature and time to think it over, then research on your own, in your own time. [ ] Be skeptical of medical products or services that are advertised as being cheaper than usually offered. These are usually scammers seeking to prey on the financially responsible. More information:
“Affordable prescriptions available here…” – Drug scams
With prescription drugs adding to the long list of high medical costs, it’s no wonder that cheaper options would be tempting. In addition to conning people out of money, such scams are dangerous because the ‘medicine’ being sold is often expired or some other substance altogether, posing risks to the patient who takes them. [ ] Be skeptical of door-to-door salesmen, because solicitations at your home without a previous appointment are illegal. [ ] Only buy medicine from reputable pharmacies. [ ] Know your prescriptions: names, doses, and appearance (size, color, etc.). This is useful not just for avoiding fraud, but also for confirming your pharmacy’s product as well as for any doctor or hospital visits you may encounter, where you will surely be asked to list the medicines (and dosages!) you’re taking. More information:
“With modern science, who needs wrinkles?” Fake anti-aging products
Similar to the prescription drug scams, these scams involve charging patients for procedures using unregulated, privately manufactured drugs that pose serious risks. [ ] Be wary of anything that seems too good to be true, or that purports to act as a cure-all. [ ] Research a product extensively before trying it, including checking with the BBB (Better Business Bureau) to find out if there have been any complaints against it. [ ] Always check with your doctor before taking any sort of supplement. More information:
“Update! Click here…” – Internet fraud (including email/phishing)
Seniors are particularly at risk for such scams due to their reduced comfort with computers and the internet. From fake anti-virus programs through phishing scams that harvest personal information through a request for updates. [ ] Be careful about opening attachments (which often can contain viruses) as well as clicking links in emails (scammers can use letters/symbols that mimic actual letters/symbols to build a fake site that can lure you into entering your password details). [ ] If you haven’t reset your password and receive any emails about resetting your password, independently visit the site in question and check your account. Change your password immediately; consider calling the site’s customer support line to report the incident and make sure there are no further security measures you can take. [ ] Monitor your bank statements vigilantly for fraudulent charges. Often, scammers will start with a small charge, just to confirm that the account is active (and also so that it is less easily spotted). Call your bank immediately if you see anything strange. More information:
Seniors might be tempted to invest their money if it means increasing the longevity of their savings, and so myriad scams exist to draw them in, promising yields on their investments. [ ] Do not ever send money to someone you don’t know. [ ] If you receive an email claiming to be from a Nigerian prince or some other comparable obvious scam, mark it as Spam. Often, it will have some sort of “sob story” designed to get you to feel bad for the sender and want to help them in any way you can; do not fall for this. [ ] If you receive a letter in the mail claiming to be a from a Nigerian prince (or something comparable), or requesting your banking information, take it to the FBI office nearest you or to the US Postal Inspection Service. More information:
An announcement of a sweepstakes win is here linked with a need to invest to ‘unlock’ the prize. Victims quickly send the money and receive a check, which bounces several days later. [ ] Sweepstakes are free; there should never be a ‘buy-in’, especially if it promises you increased odds at winning – that should be a clear red flag for potential scam activity. [ ] Be particularly wary of contests that you did not enter but announce that you are a winner. [ ] Always read the terms and conditions for any contest in which you participate or from which you receive correspondence, as they should lay out the rules, procedure for entry, and even the probability of winning. More information:
“Hello there, we need your help!” – Bogus Telemarketers
Because of their comfort in using the phone for transactions and communication, seniors are a prime target for fake telemarketers, who maximize on the opportunity to use voice-only means. Some of the scams include raising money for fake charities and fake accidents. [ ] Register your phone on the National Do Not Call Registry. [ ] If you are being rushed through a call or asked to give/confirm your account information – don’t. You can even hang up in the middle of the call. These telemarketers are just trying to get you to say ok so that they can later claim that you allowed them to charge you. [ ] Click on the resources below (under “More information”) to see the types of “lines” that are most commonly used by telemarketers. More information: