Local forum planned to help seniors identify fraud

Local RCMP are planning a community forum for April to help Osoyoos residents better recognize online scams and other fraud-related ventures that target seniors.

Sgt. Randy Bosch, the Osoyoos Detachment commander, reported to Town Council today his department has responded to almost twice as many fraud complaints in 2015 as it did in 2014.

“There’s a substantial increase in frauds, which is one of the topics we want to cover off in the town forum,” Sgt. Bosch told Council. He added the community’s large senior population is particularly vulnerable.

“They’re not aware of the different schemes that are put out,” he explained. “Not knowing their way around computers works against them as well.”

Local RCMP will exlore other crime and safety-related issues at the forum.

Councilor Mike Campol expressed his concern the detachment’s numbers might not include all of the fraud taking place.

“There’s more out there than we know,” he suggested, adding some victims likely do not come forward because they don’t know they’ve been targeted or are embarrassed they were fooled.

According to the federal government, fraud is the number one crime against older Canadians. It has provided some tips and safeguards to help seniors protect themselves:

  • Keep all personal documents in a secure place. If you don’t need them, do not carry your birth certificate, passport or SIN card.
  • Never tell another person your PIN or account passwords and take care to cover your hand when entering your PIN at bank machines and when making store purchases.
  • Safely dispose of old bills and statements. Shredding is best.
  • Do not click on pop-up windows or respond to e-mails, open attachments or go to Website links sent by people you do not know. Your bank or credit union will not send you anything by e-mail unless you ask them.
  • Never give out your credit card, bank account, or personal information to someone over the phone, at the door, or over the Internet unless you know the person or organization you are dealing with, or you made the contact.
  • Do not sign an agreement or contract to buy anything without giving yourself time to think it over. If a salesperson insists that an “offer” is “time limited” and you must decide that moment, it is probably better not to buy.
  • Be suspicious if someone you don’t know asks you to send them money or a cheque, or to return money they “accidentally” sent you.
  • Before hiring someone or agreeing to have work done on your home, ask for proof of identity and references and check them.
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