The Ottawa Police works closely with members of Ottawa to ensure security and safety. In particular, seniors have expressed concerns about being prepared or knowing what to do in certain situations. The following information provides a good start for raising awareness about crime prevention issues specific to seniors.
Would you know what to do if…
- You were asked to pay for something that you "won"?
- A suspicious stranger came to your door?
- You arrived home and found your door or window open?
- A member of your own family or a caregiver left you feeling threatened?
- Incidents of vandalism or graffiti were on the rise in your neighbourhood?
- A so-called bank official asked for your credit card information over the phone?
Stay safe - be alert
- Be street smart - be aware of your surroundings and know who's around you. Be wary of isolated spots, like basements, laundry rooms and parking lots. Always try to walk in well-lit areas and try to never walk alone. Ask a family member or a neighbour to escort you.
- Know what constitutes elder abuse. Whether it is physical, sexual, financial or mental abuse or neglect, these actions are crimes and help is available to you.
- Make sure your home is not an easy target for criminals. Take advantage of Ottawa Police's Home Security Inspection Program where, at your request, police representatives will visit your home (house, condo, apartment, etc.) to provide a free safety audit - assessing ways to make your home safer.
- Follow these safety tips when it comes to door-to-door sales.
- Get involved in Neighbourhood Watch - it's one of the best ways to meet your neighbours and make your community safer.
- If you come home and see a door ajar or a window broken, call the police immediately. NEVER enter the dwelling.
- Above all, trust your gut feeling. If your instincts tell you that another person's actions are threatening or an environment is unsafe, then leave or call for help immediately. If you feel uncomfortable or uneasy, remove yourself!
When it comes to your money, be particularly alert. Crimes like fraud are on the increase in our city, and it's up to all of us to be on the lookout for criminals and scams. For your protection:
- Arrange for direct deposit of any cheques you may regularly receive by mail.
- Never provide personal information like bank account or credit card numbers over the phone.
- Give only to charities you know.
- Never rush into something involving your money or property. Always check out offers with friends and family first.
- Be wary of something for nothing or get rich quick schemes. Never turn over large sums of money to anybody, especially a stranger, no matter how promising the deal looks.
- If pressured by a salesperson, refuse to be bullied and say no thanks - walk away, close the door, hang up the phone, etc. - it's your right.
- Do not hesitate to check the credentials of a salesperson or public official.
- Always get a second estimate.
- Know that your signature is negotiable - only sign contracts or cheques after you're certain it's for a legitimate reason. If in doubt, check with a friend, lawyer, accountant or the police.
- Report all suspicious offers or activities to the police immediately.
- Avoid joint bank accounts and joint ownership of any property
- Protect your banking information
- Choose your Power of Attorney (POA) wisely and be aware that you can change your Power of Attorney at any time
- Be aware that the moment your Continuing Power of Attorney for Property document is signed and witnessed by two people, the person being given POA status has immediate control over all of your assets, bank accounts and property. Adding a triggering clause to the “Conditions and Restrictions” area of your POA document will limit this access and ensure that it is used only at a time that YOU choose is right for you (for instance when, where, by whom and under what circumstances should the POA document be used/invoked)
- Consider a joint Power of Attorney (naming two people to share the responsibility). This minimizes the temptation and increases accountability at the same time
What to do…
If you or a senior you know is a victim of crime, report it to the police immediately. If you suspect a fraud - again, report it to the police immediately. If possible write down any important information while it's still fresh in your memory. If you have any questions or concerns about safety or want to get actively involved in crime prevention, contact your local Community Police Centre.
- Tell someone you trust what is happening to you
- Ask for help if you need it
- Keep emergency phone numbers stored in a safe place
- Keep emergency money in a safe and private place
- Have extra clothing on hand for emergency situations
- Identify a safe place to go in case of emergency
- Keep a list of your medications, and the name and phone number of your pharmacy
- Keep copies of your identification
- Keep records of your cheque book, credit cards, bank book
- Do not give personal information over the phone, including credit cards and banking information