Seniors get safety tips to guard against crime

NANAIMO – There are red flags to watch for to safe-guard against becoming victims of crime.

Nanaimo RCMP Const. Gary O’Brien talks about seniors’ safety issues during a free presentation at the Wexford Creek care facility Tuesday.

Nanaimo RCMP Const. Gary O’Brien talks about seniors’ safety issues during a free presentation at the Wexford Creek care facility Tuesday.

There are red flags to watch for to safeguard against becoming victims of crime.

Those indicators were discussed during a presentation co-hosted by Nanaimo RCMP Const. Gary O’Brien and Const. Sue Phillips, and the Good Samaritan Society at the Wexford Creek senior facility Tuesday.

The presentation, a senior safety discussion, covered current scams, how to guard against fraud, and home and community safety tips.

Telemarketing cons include the prize package, hitman, and grandson scams.

The prize package or giveaway scam often involves a phone call telling the person they have won a vacation package or prize, but in order to claim it they need to send money for an administration processing fee.

The grandson scam involves someone phoning claiming they are the person’s grandson and have had some sort of emergency and need money immediately. The person directs the senior to wire money to them. In the hitman scam, the caller says they were hired to kill them, but won’t do it if the person offers more money than the current contract.

O’Brien said phone scammers often apply a lot of pressure and create a sense of urgency.

“These people pressure and pressure you. Don’t be a voluntary victim, take that moment to think,” he said. “You have to ask yourself ‘what does this person want?’ before committing financially or to a contract.”

Overpayment scams are also prevalent. A con artist sends a money order for a service or as payment to an item a person may have advertised, but the amount is much more than the agreed upon price. When contacted, the scammer says there must have been some mistake and to cash the money order and just send the overpayment back to them.

“Never, ever cash it,” said O’Brien, adding that international money orders take about two weeks to clear the bank and if it’s fraudulent, the person who cashes it will owe the bank.

People also need to be aware of door-to-door scammers who pose as someone offering a service, such as carpet cleaning. Once inside the home, the person will steal items of value.

Bejay Kenney, who attended the presentation, said it offered good tips about safety and she learned some information she didn’t know before, such as not to leave  items such as sunglasses in a car.

“It surprised me that [a thief] might break and enter a vehicle just to get sunglasses,” she said. “The talk about telephone scams was very enlightening. They gave us a lot of information.”

One scam Kenney didn’t know about was an automated call telling someone if they wanted to be removed from the phone list to press 9.

Phillips said by pressing 9, the person’s phone line is then hacked into and criminals can use it to make long distance calls. Victims could end up owning hundreds of dollars because of the charges.

“It’s something I wouldn’t have thought of,” said Kenney.

Ray Smith knew about most of the scams talked about during the presentation, but said it was a good reminder and the RCMP officers made some valid points on safety.

“There were some that reminded me I should be more cautious,” he said.

Other safety tips during the presentation included always being aware of your surroundings, locking vehicles to prevent theft and using ATMs inside the bank not ones accessible directly on the street.

For more information on frauds, scams and safety tips please go to www.bc.rcmp.ca and click on the links under the protecting yourself menu