February 27, 2012

USA: Avoid temptation to give money to needy strangers

SOUTH BEND, Indiana / South Bend Tribune / February 26, 2012

By Barbara Brownell

Senior citizens have big hearts, and sometimes their generosity makes them want to give money to strangers who ask for help. But if a stranger knocks on your door and asks for money and you open your home and wallet, it can lead to an unpleasant or dangerous situation.

As the Victim Advocate for the Older Adult Crime Victim Program at REAL Services, I have visited many victims of crime. I have talked to many seniors who gave money to strangers who say they are in need. Often these individuals simply knock on the door of a senior citizen.

But many times, once a stranger has identified a senior as someone who will help them with money, the requests keep coming. When the senior wants to stop the giving, the situation can become unpleasant when the stranger keeps making more requests.

If you want to make sure that your donation actually helps someone in need, the best advice is to not give money to people. If you want to help a hungry person, give to a food bank. If you want to help a child get a toy, donate to a community program that provides toys to families.

Many families don't like to talk about money with their parents. But for the safety of your senior family member, please remind them not to open the door to someone they don't know, hang up on phone calls wanting personal information, and don't give money to strangers.

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