In the coming weeks, the City will launch crime prevention webinars for older New Yorkers and a radio PSA campaign on elder crime and abuse.
New York, NY – As part of National Crimes Victims’ Rights Week, the City Police Department and the Department for the Aging are partnering to raise awareness about elder crimes and provide older New Yorkers with crime prevention safety tips, resources, and information on services available to older New Yorkers who have suffered from attacks, fraud, and other crimes. The two City agencies also announced the launch of Crime Prevention webinars for older adults and a radio PSA campaign in multiple languages on elder crime and abuse in the next month.
National Crimes Victims' Rights Week 2021 runs from April 18 to April 24 and is dedicated to servicing victims of crime and to acknowledging the achievements of victim services and allied professionals. Each year, hundreds of thousands of adults over the age of 60 are abused, financially exploited, or victimized by fraud, scams and other crimes. In the past year, New York City has seen a rise of Asian hate crimes with victims including older adults, and a surge of phone scams targeted at older adults that seek personal information and money.
"Crime and abuse can happen to anyone. We want older New Yorkers to know that they are not alone, there is help available," said Department for the Aging Commissioner Lorraine Cortés-Vázquez. "We also want to ask the public to be vigilant of crimes against our elders and take action when necessary – if you see something, say something. Taking action does not mean putting yourself in harm's way. It means calling 911, reporting the incident, and providing help when someone needs it."
"We are living at a time where many people, especially those in Asian and Pacific Islander communities, fear for the safety of their loved ones," said Carmelyn P. Malalis, Chair and Commissioner of the NYC Commission on Human Rights. "Sadly, we have seen multiple racist, misogynist and xenophobic attacks targeting older adults in our communities. By offering webinars in English, Korean, and Mandarin, we are able to share crucial prevention and intervention tips to help keep New Yorkers safe."
Starting next month, the NYPD, the Department for the Aging and the City Commission on Human Rights will hold Crime Prevention Webinars for older adults. The webinars, which will be done in English, Mandarin and Korean, will provide crime prevention safety tips, information on crimes victims services and supports, and bias and hate crimes and bystander awareness and action.
In addition, the Department for the Aging will air radio PSAs on elder crime and abuse with messaging that urges crime victims to seek help and be connected to available City resources. The radio PSAs will be done in English, Spanish, Russian, Mandarin and Cantonese. For older adults who are victims of crime and/or elder abuse and mistreatment, the NYC Department for the Aging's Crime Victim Resource Center provides crisis intervention, case assistance, advocacy, counseling, safety planning, and other needed services and supports.
Since the start of COVID-19, we have seen a sharp increase in instances of hostility and harassment directed at Chinese and other Asian communities related to COVID-19 stigma and misinformation. In 2019 there was one reported incident; in 2020, thirty. Sixteen of the thirty were violent crimes. Anyone who witnesses a crime or is a victim of a hate crime, should call 911. Harassment or discrimination in housing, at work, or in any public place, contact the NYC Commission on Human Rights by filling out an online form or by calling 212-416-0197.
In the last year, there has also been an increase in phone scams targeting older adults. Many of these are Social Security phone scams, COVID-19 vaccine phone scams and what is commonly known as the grandparent scam, in which a fraudster impersonates a relative to defraud. In 2020, the Federal Trade Commission received 24,545 complaints of individuals impersonating family members and friends, up from 20,234 in 2019. According to the New York State Attorney General's office, New Yorkers alone filed 1,359 complaints in 2020.
For older New Yorkers who are victims of crime or abuse, call 311 to be connected to services.
About the Department for the Aging
The New York City Department for the Aging works to eliminate ageism and ensure the dignity and quality of life of New York City's diverse 1.7 million older adults. DFTA also works to support caregivers through service, advocacy, and education. DFTA is the largest area agency on aging in the United States.