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Beware of Fraud and Crimes Against Seniors in Reading

Seniors and older adults living in Reading and the Berks County area are among the most vulnerable in our community and it is our responsibility to watch out for our aging family, friends and neighbors. Many older Berks County residents live in constant fear of crime. Their lives are spent behind closed doors and windows, rather in the neighborhoods they helped to build. Often, their fears are not unfounded.

Research indicates that older people are more likely to be victims of certain crimes: fraud, strong-arm robbery, purse-snatching, mailbox theft, identity theft, vandalism, and harassing telephone calls.

All older Berks County residents need to protect themselves from these types of crimes. Please help us to help you by following the common-sense precautions addressed on this web page.

Be Alert When Out and About

  • Go with family or friends, not alone
  • Carry your purse close to your body, not dangling by the straps. Put your wallet in an inside coat or pants pocket
  • Don’t carry credit cards you don’t need or large amounts of cash.
  • Use direct deposit for Social Security or other regularly received checks.
  • Whether you are a passenger or driver, keep your car doors locked. Be particularly alert in lots and garages. Park near an entrance.
  • Sit close to the driver or near an exit while riding the bus, train or subway.
  • If someone or something makes you uneasy, trust your instincts and move or leave.

Make Your Home Safe and Secure

  • 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 close friend or relatives.
  • Ask for photo identification from service or delivery people before allowing them to enter your residence. If you are the least bit worried, call the service or delivery company to verify their identity.
  • Consider a home alarm system that provides emergency monitoring for burglary, fire and medical emergencies.

Watch out for Con Artists

  • Don’t fall for anything that sounds too good to be true: a free vacation, sweepstakes prizes, cures for cancer or arthritis, low risk – high yield investment schemes.
  • Never give your credit card, phone card, Social Security number or bank account numbers to anyone over the telephone. It is illegal for telemarketers to ask for these numbers to verify a prize or gift.
  • Don’t let anyone rush you into signing anything: insurance policy, sales agreement, or any contract. Read it carefully and have someone you trust check it for accuracy and/or validity.
  • Beware of individuals claiming to represent companies, consumer organizations or government agencies that offer to recover lost money from fraudulent telemarketers for a fee.
  • If you are suspicious, check it out with your local police or the Berks County Detective’s Elder Abuse Unit at (610) 487-7171.

Be Alert, Be Involved!

  • Report any crime or suspicious activity to law enforcement.
  • Join a Neighborhood Watch Program to look out for each other and help the police.
  • Work to improve conditions in your neighborhood.

To contact the Berks County Detectives: Call: 610-478-7171 or e-mail:

If you need legal assistance in managing an estate, trust or other elder law issue then The Law Office of Scott C. Painter can help. We specialize in elder law issues ranging from nursing home planning, guardianship, wills, trusts, estates, veteran’s benefits, and other related legal matters. A call to us is free, and the best advice is to act now to educate yourself and your options. Waiting to seek legal counsel may limit your options and be costly. Call now for your free consultation 610-378-5140.