In Your Community
Personal safety and crime prevention tips apply to all regardless of age. However there are some things seniors can do to further reduce their likelihood of being victimized.
- Do not burden yourself with packages or a bulky purse.
- Go shopping in pairs or groups.
- If you suspect you are being followed, cross the street, go to the nearest home, service station, or business and call police.
- Never display large sums of money in public.
- Walk in the center of the sidewalk, away from alleys and doorways
- Walk only in well-lit areas.
In Your Home
- Do not leave tell tale signs that your are away.
- Don't keep large amounts of cash at home.
- Get to know your neighbors.
- Install good locks and always use them.
- Install a wide-angle door viewer which permits you to see callers before you open the door.
- Keep entrances and garages well lit at night.
- Mark valuables for identification. Your community policing station can lend you an engraver.
- Never leave a stranger unattended in your home.
- Never open the door to strangers without credentials.
Safety In Your Vehicle
- Be cautious of any stranger approaching your vehicle. If you feel you are in danger, press the horn repeatedly in short blasts to attract attention.
- Do not pick up hitchhikers.
- Have keys in hand so you do not have to linger before entering your car.
- If you are driving at night, use well-lit streets and parking lots that are open for easy observation.
- Plan and know your route before you leave, whether it is for a short drive in the city or a long trip in the country.
- Remember to keep your vehicle locked at all times, whether moving or parked.
- View the interior of your car before getting in to make sure no one is hiding inside even if the doors are locked.
What if... Your Vehicle Breaks down in an Isolated Area
- Pull your vehicle off the road so you will be out of the traffic.
- Raise the hood of your vehicle.
- Should a passing motorist stop, stay in your car and ask him/her to send help back to you.
- Stay in the car with all doors locked and windows rolled up.
- Turn on the emergency four way flasher.
- Wait for help to come to you - a patrolling police car or another motorist.
- Husbands have a responsibility to learn self-care-shopping, meal preparation and house cleaning.
- It is unwise to bequeath a house or other possessions to a relative on the strength of a relative's promise to “look after you.”
- Maintain independence and self-sufficiency for as long as possible.
- Participate in social activities as much as possible with friends as well as family members.
- Prepare and revise your will before beginning your retirement years and with the death of a spouse or family member who is named in your will. - preferably with the help of a lawyer.
- Seniors can be vulnerable to abuse if they have little knowledge or understanding of their financial situation. It is important to assume some responsibility for knowing how to manage finances.
Most of Canada's elderly enjoy strong healthy ties with their families, friends and care givers. But a significant number of older adults are not happy or safe, and are being victimized in their homes by family members, informal care givers, friends and landlords.
Elder Abuse falls into three categories.
- Material Property Abuse - Illegal or unethical exploitation of funds, assets or property belonging to an older person, such as coercing them to sign over power of attorney or stealing from an older person in care facilities.
- Physical Abuse - Inflicting pain or discomfort by physical assault, rough handling, restraint, coercion, sexual molestation, and under or over medication.
- Psychological Abuse - Inflicting anguish by insulting, humiliating, intimidating, infantilizing, ignoring, frightening, isolating, removing decision making powers, withholding love and denying access to grandchildren.
Neglect is also considered abuse. Neglect can vary from active neglect such as denial of necessities such as food and health care to passive neglect, such as failure to give proper care because of ignorance and infirmity.
A number of tactics are used by criminals to steal money from seniors. These include investment scams, purse/wallet snatching, robbing mail boxes, breaking and entering and impersonating financial officers.
- Cheques and Money Orders - Do not carry large amounts of cash - if you need to carry large amounts consider using bank drafts, money orders or cheques.
- Credit Cards - Always sign a new credit card when you receive it. Always destroy old cards. Never provide anyone with your credit card number unless you initiate the transaction i.e. a telephone purchase.
- Direct Deposit - Consider having payments you receive on a regular basis such as pension cheques and dividends deposited directly to your account. Not only is this more convenient as you do not have to make a special trip to the bank, your money also starts earning interest immediately. Many criminals including con artists, are aware that seniors receive their pension cheques at the end of the month and direct deposits are a good crime prevention technique.
- Monthly Bills - Pay monthly bills such as telephone and hydro at a financial institution.
- Safety Deposit Boxes - Consider storing stocks, bonds, jewelry and other valuables in a safety deposit box. Not only will your valuables be safer but they will also be together in one convenient location so you will always know their exact whereabouts.
Sooner or later, every homeowner faces the problems of hiring somebody to do repair or improvement work around the house. Too often the experience is an unhappy one. Preventative Tips:
- Who demand an unreasonable down payment “to buy materials.” All reputable contractors maintain charge accounts with their suppliers.
- Who knock on the door to tell you they just happened to be doing some work in the area and can give you a ‘special price'.
- Who knock on your door and then will not give you a business card when requested.
- Who promise a discount if you allow them to use your home “to advertise our work” The same offer will have been made to everyone.
- Who quote a price without seeing the job.
- Who refuse to give you a written contract specifying exactly what they say they will do.
- Who's only address is a post office box, a telephone number, or the address of their answering machine.
With all the charities presently pursuing the public's dollar, it is at times difficult to know which organizations to donate to or if they are even legitimate. Preventive Tips:
- Ask for the organization's charitable registration number. All registered charities have one.
- Be wary of telephone campaigns. Find out how much of the money actually goes to the charity.
- It may be wise to consider a policy of donating to recognized charities that represent causes which you or your group believe in.
- Question organizations who say they “will come right by to pick up your cheque.” Ask them for their address and check if they are legitimate, then mail them the cheque. Phone the Better Business Bureau to determine their legitimacy.
In British Columbia, there are a number of laws which protect consumers from unfair business practices. Preventive Tips:
- Always keep records of such things as bill, contacts, canceled cheques, and warranties.
- Avoid miracle cures, laboratory tests and mail order clinics usually found in magazine ads. There are no miracle cures for cancer, arthritis or any other disease. Bogus medical treatment offered through the mail should be reported to your physician or local medical authorities.
- Be suspicious of retirement estate advertisements in papers, magazines and brochures. A quick call to a reputable Realtor or the Better Business Bureau may save you financial grief.
- Be wary of door-to-door salespeople. Do not allow yourself to be pushed into buying something you don't really need or want. Take a day to think about it.
- Be wary of something-for-nothing or get-rich-quick schemes.
- Before you buy anything, find out what the store policy is about defective goods, repairs and returns.
- Do not rush into something involving your money or property.
- If you do not know the seller, check with your local consumer group or the Better Business Bureau.
- Never sign a contract before you read and understand it. Do not sign a blank contract that a salesperson says will be filled in at a later date.
- Read the contract; ask the salesperson to explain all the costs involved.
- Shop around - always get at least 3 estimates on major purchases or service contracts.