Your doors are locked but scammers call

Older Americans become victims of crimes that they  are not prepared to protect themselves from.  They understand locks on doors but they don’t understand the dangers of answering the phone or the door when someone knocks.

Hardware_locks_2Some of my elderly neighbors keep the front screen locked, and beyond that door is a porch door, also locked.  Beyond the porch door is the interior door to the home, that sometimes has multiple locks.  The doors are kept locked.

Fewer violent crimes are committed against older Americans than against any other group but they are more susceptible to certain types of crime than any other group.

They are crimes like credit card fraud, mortgage fraud and identity theft. Scammers call during the day trying to get credit card numbers or bank account numbers. Phishing emails that look legitimate arrive almost daily.

There is some consumer information about crimes against seniors on the MN department of commerce web site, and I found some information on the FBI’s web site, but I don’t know how many older Americans are getting this information. The Minnesota site has a fairly comprehensive guide that covers financial planning and outlines common scams.

If you have friends, parents or neighbors who are older Americans, read up on crimes against seniors and don’t be afraid to talk with them about it. Educate yourself and teach someone else. It may be  a challenge to get past their spam blockers, caller I.D.’s and locks, but they need to know that there are people out there who can trick them out of their home, no matter how many locks it has.

Who needs paper?

I actually own a couple of printers and there is a ream of paper in my office and it will last a couple of years. Writing an offer on a home and getting it signed without ever printing any of it it very easy to do. I offer my clients printed copies but most prefer the electronic files. Life without paper is just easier.

As a broker I am required to keep my files for six years. I keep them electronically by year and then by property address. They are stored a computer and backed up automatically with Carbonite and kept in the cloud. Even if my office burns down my files are safe and accessible and when they are no longer needed they can be deleted rather than shredded and disposed of.

Another advantage of electronic Pasted_Image_8_16_15__11_08_AMcontracts is that I have all access to all contracts at all times. If I am out with buyers and they need to make an quickly, I can do that. Speed matters in multiple offer situations.

I work with home sellers that I never meet in person. They live out of state and I can sell their real estate and get all of the paperwork done over the interent.

Paper can take up a lot of space, which means I would need a bigger office if I had to use paper.

 

April is fair housing month

Fair housing is the law of the land yet I have witnessed unfair housing. I have had sellers tell me that they don’t want to sell to “those people”.  . . but they did.

Minnesota has one of the biggest home ownership gaps in the country. Statewide, 77 percent of white households owned their home compared with 39 percent of all households of color owning a home. Housing is part of a bigger picture of financial disparity.

For more information about the fair housing act and other laws visit the HUD portal

Get a paper shredder

shredder

There are people who do not believe that identity theft is a problem.  Sadly a person does not have to believe in that type of crime to become a victim of it. Identity theft is a first world modern kind of problem that can not be solved just by locking doors.

Once identity thieves have your personal information, they can drain your bank account, run up charges on your credit cards, open new utility accounts, or get medical treatment on your health insurance. An identity thief can file a tax refund in your name and get your refund. In some extreme cases, a thief might even give your name to the police during an arrest.

The Federal Trade Commission has tips on how to prevent and how to detect identity theft and fraud.

Personally I just love my paper shredder. I shred phone bills and water bills and the contracts that my clients sign after the contract are scanned and stored in a safe place.

Shredded paper is recyclable and as it sits in your recycle bin in the alley for weeks waiting for a pick-up no one will be able to read what it says.