March was Fraud Prevention month and a local organization is trying to raise awareness about the issue.
The Mount Waddington Community Response Network is a coordinating body of interested members and service providers who volunteer at the community level to prevent, educate, and promote awareness of issues relating to adult/elder abuse, neglect or self abuse.
The network represents the 10 communities in the region, both First Nations and non First Nations, and is part of the Seniors/Elders Better Living Advisory Committee, a sub-committee of the Mountain Waddington Health Network.
Older and vulnerable adults in the North Island are often targeted by scams that are increasingly complex and appear legitimate. The best protection is to know how to recognize these scams – and if something or someone seems suspicious or not legitimate – to say no, hang up the phone or delete an email.
Fraud prevention is one of the issues The Community Response Network works with police, other community agencies and volunteers to prevent seniors from being the victims of both abuse and criminal acts.
“Many seniors live in isolation, which increases their vulnerability to fraud. They really need caring, supportive individuals in their community who can alert them to possible scams and answer their questions and concerns,” says Sherry Baker, executive director of the BC Association of Community Response Networks.
Some of the more common current scams include: prize pitch (a fraudulent telemarketer will ask for money to be sent before you win the prize); computer scams (someone claiming to be from a large software company warning there are problems with the target’s computer); scams for a range of services; and the emergency or ‘grandparent scam’ (a con artist claiming to be a grandchild in an emergency needing money immediately).
Some tips to be fraud-proof!
Never give out personal, confidential information over the phone, through email or over the Internet unless you initiated the contact and know who you’re dealing with.
Protect your banking information. Never reveal your PIN or passwords to anyone – including bank employees, family members and friends. Remember, your bank will never ask you to respond via email to a request for personal information, PINs or passwords. A bank may call to request personal information to validate your identity but will not ask for a PIN or password.
Keep your personal information safe. An identity thief will go through garbage and recycling bins so shred all receipts, credit card statements, insurance forms, etc.
If someone you don’t know calls to say you’ve won a valuable prize or a free vacation, or wants to offer you a product or service, don’t feel pressured to agree to something and make a purchase, and never give out personal financial information. And if something seems too good to be true, it probably is.
If you feel pressured, uncomfortable or afraid, hang up the phone or delete the email.
If you have questions or are worried that you gave out personal financial information or purchased something under pressure, talk about it with a trusted family member, friend or neighbour.
The Mount Waddington Community Response Network is part of the BC Association of Community Response Networks (BC CRN), whose mandate is to bring together community and government agencies and community volunteers to develop a coordinated response to abuse and neglect of vulnerable adults.
A CRN provides information and support so the community can both prevent and respond effectively to abuse and neglect.