Phone:   519-354-0430  //     Email:  ckbpp@ciaccess.com  

Senior Safety

Personal Safety Tips

Criminals often regard seniors as easy targets for many kinds of crimes. It is important to be aware of these crimes and to learn how to prevent them. Watch out for Con Artists and Con Games.

Some safety tips for seniors

  1. Always walk in well-lit areas... walking with a companion is safer.
  2. Walk with confidence and be aware of your surroundings-look for the Block Parent Sign!
  3. Carry identification with you at all times.
  4. Keep your doors locked at all times.
  5. Never display large sums of money in public.
  6. Report all suspicious activity to the police.
  7. Never open your door to strangers until you are satisfied with their identity and the purpose of their visit.
  8. Get to know your neighbors

Seniors can "street proof" themselves...

At home

  1. Always keep your doors and windows locked. Install dead-bolt locks in all doors.
  2. Keep your home well lit at night inside and out, and keep your curtains closed at night.
  3. Install a peephole in your front door so you can see callers without opening the door.
  4. Ask for proper identification and the purpose of the visit from delivery people or strangers.
  5. Never let a stranger into your home. If a stranger asks to use your telephone, offer to place the call for him.
  6. Never give out information over the phone indicating that you are home alone or detailing when you will not be home.
  7. Hide your keys in a place that is not conspicuous.
  8. Install a wide-angle door viewer which permits you to see callers before you open the door.

Out and About

  1. Walk only in well-lit areas.
  2. Do not burden yourself with packages or a bulky purse.
  3. Never display large sums of money in public.
  4. Walk near curbs and away from alleys and doorways.
  5. Avoid walking alone at night.

In the Car

  1. Always lock your car immediately on entering or leaving it.
  2. If a stranger stops to offer help, do not get out of your car. Ask the stranger to call a service truck for you.
  3. If you suspect someone is following you, drive to the nearest public place (gas station, all-night restaurant) and blow your horn.
  4. Park in well lit areas.
  5. When you return to your car, always check the front and back seat before you get in.
  6. Never pick up hitchhikers.
  7. Avoid driving and parking in isolated areas.
  8. Keep your gas tank full and your engine properly maintained to avoid breakdowns.
  9. If you have car trouble, raise the hood, lock yourself in and wait for the police.

Financial Information

  1. Do not discuss your finances with strangers.
  2. Get to know your bank manager.
  3. Have a will drawn up and notarized by a lawyer who is sensitive to seniors issues.
  4. Arrange to have any incoming cheques such as your pension cheques deposited directly into your bank account.
  5. Keep your money in a bank or financial institution, not at home.
  6. If unable to do your own banking, entrust a relative or friend. Make this person known to your bank manager/ lawyer/ relatives.
  7. Have a person you trust review documents before you sign them.
  8. Do not give either your ATM card or password to anyone.
  9. Set cash withdrawal limits on your account.
  10. Be wary of anyone pressuring you to sell your house.
  11. Don't commit yourself to purchases or charitable donations over the phone. Ask the caller to mail you the information.
  12. Check with the Consumer Association of Canada or the Better Business Bureau before committing to any suspect purchases.

Crime Prevention Tips for Seniors

Crime prevention is everyone's responsibility, not just a job for law enforcement. Seniors can learn how to protect themselves from crime by following these simple, common sense suggestions. Share these tips with your neighbors and friends, too, and make it tough for criminals to work in your neighborhood.

At Home

  1. Always keep your doors and windows locked. Install dead bolt locks on all your doors.
  2. Keep your home well lit at night, inside and out, and keep your curtains closed at night.
  3. Install a peephole in your front door so you can see callers without opening the door.
  4. Ask for proper identification from deliverymen or strangers. Don't be afraid of asking; if they are legitimate they won't mind.
  5. If a stranger asks to use your telephone, offer to place the call for him/her yourself. Never let a stranger into your home.
  6. Do not leave notes on your door when you are gone. Do not hide your keys under the mat or in other conspicuous places.
  7. Never give out information over the phone indicating you are alone or that you won't be home at a certain time.
  8. When you are gone for more than a day, make sure your home/room looks and sounds occupied - use an automatic timer to turn on lights and a radio or TV.

Would you know what to do if...

  1. You were asked to pay for something that you "won"?
  2. A suspicious stranger came to your door?
  3. You arrived home and found your door or window open?
  4. A member of your own family or a caregiver left you feeling threatened?
  5. Incidents of vandalism or graffiti were on the rise in your neighbourhood?
  6. A so-called bank official asked for your credit card information over the phone?

This is just a small sample of the concerns expressed by Ottawa seniors. The following information provides a good start for raising awareness about crime prevention issues specific to seniors. Contact your local Community Police Centre for additional crime prevention tips.

Stay safe - be alert

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. Make sure your home is not an easy target for criminals. See the pamphlet called Crime Prevention at Home and 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.
  4. Get involved in Neighbourhood Watch - it's one of the best ways to meet your neighbours and make your community safer.
  5. If you come home and see a door ajar or a window broken, call the police immediately. NEVER enter the dwelling.
  6. 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!

Your money

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 con games. For your protection:

  1. Arrange for direct deposit of any cheques you may regularly receive by mail.
  2. Never provide personal information like bank account or credit card numbers over the phone.
  3. Give only to charities you know.
  4. Never rush into something involving your money or property. Always check out offers with friends and family first.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. Do not hesitate to check the credentials of a salesperson or public official.
  8. Always get a second estimate.
  9. 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.
  10. Report all suspicious offers or activities to the police immediately.

What to do...

If you or a senior you know is a victim of crime - from a stolen purse to an assault - 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.

Helpful numbers and contacts

Credit checks: Equifax - 1-877-323-2598 or www.equifax.ca

Trans Union - 1-800-663-9980 or www.tuc.ca

Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre: http://www.antifraudcentre-centreantifraude.ca/

Ministry of Consumer and Business Services - 1-800-889-9768

List of past and current scams: http://www.rcmp-grc.gc.ca/scams-fraudes/index-eng.htm


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website created July 2012;
updated January 2013; by Lori Gardner