A paper for those of us a little older…
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Police Beat by Diane Maclaurin

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January 2017
Welcome to the New Year! Everyone who has either borrowed money from a financial institution or company or applied and/or has a credit card has a credit file. More than 21 million Canadians have credit files. Do you know what is in yours?
Once a year it is a good idea to request a copy of your credit report from the two independent credit-reporting agencies. It helps you check that your personal information is up to date, your financial data is correct and helps you ensure that you haven’t been a victim of identity theft. The Financial Consumer Agency of Canada recommends you check both credit reports because your credit information can be kept by more than one agency. These agencies do not share their information with each other, so there may be discrepancies.
What is in a credit report?
There is a lot of personal information contained in these reports. It contains details on every loan you have had in the past number of years, whether you pay on time, how much you owe, your credit limits on each accounts and lists authorized creditors who have accessed your file.
Any company you may be asking for credit from (i.e.: credit card application) can get a copy of your report. Even if you are applying for a service like telephone accounts, renting an apartment etc. they can check up on you.
What is a credit score and why is it important?
There is a difference between a credit report and a credit score. A credit report can be ordered by phone, fax or e-mail. A credit score is available on-line, through the credit reporting agencies’ website. Your score is not part of your regular credit report. The numbers (can be called by different names) go from 300 to 900. The higher the number, the better your rating is. There is a fee charged by these agencies for receiving your score.
You are able to get a free copy of your credit report by mail. You can check it online for a fee. Be aware these companies do offer more expensive types of plans for a FEE as well.

The two main credit companies in Canada are
TransUnion Canada
1 800 663-9980 www.transunion.ca
Equifax Canada Inc.
1 800 465-7166 www.equifax.com

You can check the Financial Consumer Agency of Canada’s website for more information. Once in the site – search for credit report to get more information. Their phone number is 1 866 461-3222 and website is www.fcac.gc.ca
Next month will continue on what credit scores mean, how to protect yourself and other credit information.

December 2016
This month, I will focus on various tips to help you over the holiday season. Unfortunately, this is also the time of year that brings out the worst in some. Hopefully you will not become a victim.
• Don’t leave your packages out in the open in your car. Thieves
target shopping malls and look for vehicles that have visible
items to steal. Use your trunk to store purchases.

• Leave your purse at home when shopping. Put your money and
credit cards in a waist bag (fanny pack). It is safer and you don’t
have to worry about leaving your purse in a shopping cart. Carry
your wallet in a front pocket.

• If you absolutely must carry a purse, don’t leave it unattended
when shopping. If your purse is not zipped up, it is easy to snatch
your wallet. Wear a jacket with pockets or consider a small cross-
body bag with a strap you can wear.

• Do not let your debit or credit card out of your sight. When
inputting your PIN, make sure you do not say your numbers
out loud or let others know your personal numbers.

• Don’t be pressured at the door, by telephone or emails by charities
during the holiday season. Give because you want to, not because
you feel guilty.

• Decide how much money to spend on your loved ones and stick to
those amounts. Holidays can be a time when financial abuse may
happen. Plan ahead and be firm with your decisions.

• Holidays can be a lonely and sad time for some people. If you need
help dealing with any issues, please call 211. They can advise
you of the many agencies and community supports that are
available. You do not have to be or feel alone.

Stay safe!
I can be contacted at 684-1039 or diane.maclaurin@thunderbaypolice.ca

November 2016
The following is directly taken from the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre’s website. Recently, they were in town giving a presentation and I think that this is a timely article. It is often embarrassing and uncomfortable for people to contact police for these types of scams. Please remember your best defense is to do your research and be wary if you date online. Toll free number is 1888 495-8501 or email is www.antifraudcentre.ca if you want to do your own research into any frauds or scams.

Romance scams
Romance scams continue to cause severe financial harm on consumers which has a profound impact. In 2014, alone Canadians lost $13,736,678.93 to this scam.
Fraudsters steal photos and use dating sites and social media to lure potential victims into sending money for various reasons. The fraudsters have shown that they are willing to develop the relationship over an extended period of time. This increases the trust level between the victim and the fraudster which results in the potential victim usually losing more money.
The fraudster will gain the trust of the victim through displays of affection. In some cases will send gifts, flowers and tokens to prove that their feelings are genuine. While the fraudster is usually located in a faraway country, eventually they will state that they want to meet the potential victim in person. It is at this time the fraudster will advise they can’t afford to travel and will seek assistance from the victim in covering travel costs. Other variations include the fraudster presenting situations of emergency or urgency, such as a sick family member and seeking financial assistance from the victim for various costs.

How to protect yourself
Be wary if fraudsters want to develop a quick relationship with you, and be suspicious when someone you haven’t met professes their love to you.
Never under any circumstances send money for any reason. Once it is sent, you have almost NO chance of getting your money back.
Be cautious when conversing with an individual that claims to live close to you but is working overseas. This is a set up for the fraudster to provide numerous reasons to ask for money.
If you receive a “pay cheque” or another form of payment from someone you’ve met online and they ask you to cash it and send them a portion of the funds – don’t do it! It’s a counterfeit cheque and you’ll be responsible to cover any fees from the bank.
Stay safe! I can be contacted at 684-1039 or diane.maclaurin@thunderbaypolice.ca

Oct 2016
Know how to recognize a scam?
There are many fraud types, including new ones invented daily. The CRA scam is a HUGE problem.
Taxpayers should be vigilant when they receive, either by telephone, mail, text message or email, a fraudulent communication that claims to be from the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) requesting personal information such as a social insurance number, credit card number, bank account number or passport number.
These scams may insist that this personal information is needed so that the taxpayer can receive a refund or a benefit payment. Cases of fraudulent communication could also involve threatening or coercive language to scare individuals into paying fictitious debt to the CRA. Other communications urge taxpayers to visit a fake CRA website where the taxpayer is then asked to verify their identity by entering personal information. These are scams and taxpayers should never respond to these fraudulent communications or click on any of the links provided.
Lately, the fraudsters have added a new way to try and scam you. An email will say that you have money (refund) in your bank account. Often it is a bank you do not even have an account with. They will indicate a certain dollar amount and want you to click on the link to access your refund. This is another CRA scam. Please be diligent when receiving any communication (phone, letters, email, texts) and CHECK, CHECK, CHECK before giving out any information.
Check the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre website – www.antifraudcentre.ca or 1 888 495-8501
Stay safe!
I can be contacted at 684-1039 or diane.maclaurin@thunderbaypolice.ca

Sept 2016
Renovation Scams
Now is the time to remind you and your families about the dangers of renovation scams, charity scams and door to door high pressure sales. Keeping yourself informed will help prevent you becoming a victim. If you see a salesperson in your neighbourhood, remember you do NOT HAVE TO TALK TO THEM.
In our area, door to door sales have been ongoing all summer. Many companies will come into our city with high pressure tactics. The salespeople often work on commission and receive money for every person they can get to sign a contract. Alarm systems, energy providers, people pretending to be collecting for charities or selling magazine subscriptions or other products are some examples. Many are legitimate businesses but do not offer the best deals for you. Remember to take your time before signing any contract. Do not be pressured at the door. Local energy providers, such as Thunder Bay Hydro and Hydro One do not solicit.
If you do sign a contract, you can cancel any contract over $50 if you do so within 10 days. You must send a registered letter to the company, identifying the date you entered into the contract, request you wish to cancel and any identifying numbers that may apply. (Example – if there is a contract number, model number etc) You can contact Consumer Protection Ontario at 1 800 889-9768 for more information or check online.
Never be pressured by renovation salespeople. If you are in need of a new roof, windows or other work to your home, take your time and check more than one company. Make sure they are a reputable company by checking with friends, neighbours or family. Do not pay for all the work upfront. Be wary of people who show up unannounced to your door with great deals. Do your homework and check out the company!
Anyone can come to your door and say they are collecting for a charity. If you really wish to donate you can call the charity directly or ask the person at the door to leave a pamphlet or information and you can decide later. DO NOT let people into your house and then go search for your purse or wallet. If they need to use the washroom or phone it is not your responsibility to provide those services.
Energy providers trying to sell you a new water heater, furnace or air conditioner have been very persistent this summer. DO NOT sign any contract or give out any of your personal information – including showing a salesperson a copy of your present bills.
REMEMBER YOU ARE IN CONTROL – IF YOU DO NOT WISH TO BUY, SIMPLY SAY NO!
Stay safe!
I can be contacted at diane.maclaurin@thunderbaypolice.ca

June 2016

The United Nations General Assembly has designated June 15 as World Elder Abuse Awareness Day (WEAAD). It is a day in the year when the world voices its opposition to the abuse and suffering inflicted on older people, most often by their families.
An increasing number of events and activities are held across the globe on this day to raise awareness of elder abuse, and highlight ways to challenge it
Hold a fun event and here are some examples-
– a wear WEEAD purple day at work, with accompanying displays
– a walk, morning tea, picnic or games day to raise awareness
– plant a tree, tied with a giant purple ribbon
– light up local landmarks in purple
– create some street art
– organize a seniors’ flash mob
– hold a fashion show with purple clothes
– have a purple food, writing or other competition
– display some purple balloons
or feel free to come up with your own great ideas!
Even something as simple as a hug, a visit and taking time to listen to a senior this day and everyday can go a long way! Enjoy your summer and stay safe.

I can be contacted at diane.maclaurin@thunderbaypolice.ca or 684-1039.

May 2016

As the weather gets warmer, we will have more door to door sales people in Thunder Bay. It is important to have some knowledge to avoid being a victim or signing a contract with a company and then regretting that decision.
Home Maintenance
Be careful of door to door people you have not contacted yourself who want to help with yard work, house painting etc. We often get calls from citizens who have given money out and have not received any services or partial services. It is very hard to track someone down after you have paid them all their money upfront.
Be wary if a contractor (or family and friends) asks for a loan. A contractor should not ask for all the money for the job upfront. If you cannot afford it, don’t loan! It is very hard to get money back and mostly it is not a police matter. You may be able to recover your money in a civil court but the easiest way is to not get involved in the first place. Remember, someone who will take advantage of your good heart is very skilled in making you believe their story.
Door to door salespeople saying they will paint your house, blacktop your driveway or perform other home chores may also not be your best choice. Typically these people are “fly by night” and not from Thunder Bay. If it seems too good to be true, it may be a bad decision. You need to check on their references, contact other homeowners who have had work done, consult trusted family members or friends. Do not make decisions quickly. A hasty choice at the door may result in poor workmanship and other headaches for you.
Telephone Soliciting
We had scam artists in town selling cheap carpets at premium prices and very expensive vacuum cleaners to unsuspecting homeowners. They would phone the person first and when they arrived, they used very high-pressure sales tactics to make the person buy.
Pushy tactics are also often used by energy salespeople. They often work on commission and the more people they sign up, they more money they can make. You are under no obligation to speak to these individuals. They very often will try and pressure you to sign up with their energy or gas company. You need to research to see if your current provider is your best choice. DO NOT SIGN ANY CONTRACTS ON THE SPOT!
Anyone who is selling door to door is required to obtain a Peddler’s Licence with our Thunder Bay By-Law department. Licences can be denied for a variety of reasons. You can contact the City of Thunder Bay By-Law division if you want further information.
Remember, do not be pressured into buying on the spot. Take the time to make your choice. If the salesperson tells you the decision needs to be made right now, you should be very wary. If they won’t leave your home or advise you not to get another opinion, you should not be buying their products. Call the police if they refuse to leave.
Thunder Bay Police Service is aware of these types of fraudsters. Be informed of these types of scams and/or pressure marketing and let your friends and family know as well. The best defence is being proactive and knowledgeable of what is happening.
Stay safe!
I can be contacted at diane.maclaurin@thunderbaypolice.ca or 684-1039.

April 2016

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Feb. 2016

I have asked our Firearms Officer to prepare a column for this month. As many of you may not know what to do if you are planning on selling or even safely storing a firearm, this should help. There will be two columns dedicated to this topic.
Firearms
Possession & Acquisition Firearms Licence
In Canada, everyone who possesses or acquires a firearm must be licenced to do so – whether the firearm falls into the non-restricted, restricted or prohibited class. A firearms licence is also required to purchase ammunition.
Licencing pertains to individuals (or businesses); it is the process through which the privilege to possess and acquire firearms is established and maintained.
In order to apply for a firearms licence, an individual must first demonstrate knowledge of firearms safety. Firearms safety training courses, overseen by the RCMP Canadian Firearms Program, teach students how to safely handle, use and store firearms.
Information on firearms safety courses and firearms licence applications is available on the RCMP Canadian Firearms Program (CFP) website www.rcmp-grc.gc.ca/cfp, from regional CFP Chief Firearms Officer offices or by calling 1 – 800 – 731 – 4000.
Firearms licences are typically valid for five years. It is essential that licence holders notify the CFP of address changes so renewal reminders and other information are sent to the correct address.

Selling, Giving or Trading Firearms
When transferring a non-restricted (long guns) firearm, the transferor (a seller or giver) may contact the Canadian Firearms Program at 1 – 800 – 731 – 4000 and request confirmation of whether the transferee (a buyer or recipient), at the time of transfer, holds a licence authorizing them to acquire and possess that kind of firearm.
When a restricted or prohibited firearm (handgun or restricted or prohibited rifle) is sold, given or traded to a new owner, a lawful transfer must be conducted to reflect this transfer, a new registration certificate will be issued to the new owner. Lawful transfers can be conducted by calling the Canadian Firearms Program at 1 – 800 – 731 – 4000.
In Canada, a firearm may only be transferred to one of the following:
• an adult (18 or older) with a Possession and Acquisition Licence (PAL) that is valid for that class of firearm;
• a business, museum, or other organization with a Firearms Business Licence; or
• A public service agency – for example, a police force, a police academy or certain government departments or agencies.
The RCMP Canadian Firearms Program (CFP) website www.rcmp-grc.gc.ca/cfp has many Fact Sheets pertaining to firearms and licencing and can also be reached by calling 1 800 731 -4000 for any queries or questions.
You can also reach your local Area Firearms Officer, Deb Bissonnette at Thunder Bay Police (807) 684-1297 for local assistance. Part 2 next month!
Stay safe! I can be contacted at 684-1039 or diane.maclaurin@thunderbaypolice.ca

Jan. 2016

Consider taking a driver’s course to refresh your knowledge of the rules of the road and safe driving practices. Sometimes over the years, we develop bad habits we are not aware of. A qualified driving school can assist you with correcting mistakes or provide some tips that may make you feel more confident when driving.
Locally, St Joseph’s Care Group has a Driver Rehabilitation Clinic. Their purpose is to assess and train people who want to maintain their driving privileges. They assess physical and thinking skills (like vision, memory, strength etc.) They can make recommendations on adaptive vehicle equipment that may assist with driving. There is an assessment fee and there are certain criteria to be met to become a client. Please call 343-2480 for more information.

Questions to ask yourself
• Am I experiencing an increasing number of near collisions?
• Have I been directly involved in minor collisions?
• Do I have difficulty concentrating while driving?
• Do I get nervous when driving?
• Do other motorists frequently honk at me?
• Do my family members express concern about my driving ability?
• Do I get lost or disoriented on familiar roads?
• Do I have difficulty co-ordinating my hands and foot movements?

Your honest answers to the above questions can help you decide whether to continue to drive, cut back to certain times of the day or stop driving altogether. If you have concerns about the warning signs and your driving ability, talk to your doctor or family and get their opinions.

Healthy living for drivers
Your health is a key factor in your ability to drive safely. Below are some tips you can apply to keeping yourself in good health.
• Maintain your flexibility and strength. There are many programs in our community to assist you with this and you can also practice in your own home. Examples are yoga, aquabics, weight training etc.
• CHECK with your doctor or pharmacist to make sure any existing or new medications will not negatively affect your driving ability.
• BE AWARE that combining certain medications and/or over the counter medications can impair driving. ASK your doctor or pharmacist.
• Have your hearing and eyesight checked regularly. Depth and peripheral vision tend to decline over the years.
If you feel you are not as comfortable driving or have experienced any of the issues discussed in this column, consider the following. Check with Thunder Bay Transit, 684-3744, and find out schedules and information. Take a bus once or twice a week to destinations you normally would drive to. When you are no longer able or want to drive, you will already be familiar with their system. Take it at a time you are not rushed.
Look into other alternative methods of getting to destinations. Does a neighbour go to the same grocery store as you? Can a family member pick you up to go to the doctor? There are alternatives to driving and the sooner you explore your options, the better you will be prepared when/if you choose or are forced to give up your driving privileges.

Stay safe!
I can be contacted at diane.maclaurin@thunderbaypolice.ca or 684-1039

Dec. 2015

This month, I will focus on various tips to help you over the holiday season. Unfortunately, this is also the time of year that brings out the worst in some. Hopefully you will not become a victim.

• Don’t leave your packages out in the open in your car. Thieves
target shopping malls and look for vehicles that have visible
items to steal. Use your trunk to store purchases.

• Leave your purse at home when shopping. Put your money and
credit cards in a waist bag (fanny pack). It is safer and you don’t
have to worry about leaving your purse in a shopping cart.

• If you absolutely must carry a purse, don’t leave it unattended
when shopping. If your purse is not zipped up, it is easy to snatch
your wallet. At the very least, cover your purse with items in your
cart to make it harder to find.

• Do not let your debit or credit card out of your sight. When
inputting your PIN, make sure you do not say your numbers
out loud or let others know your personal numbers.

• Don’t be pressured at the door or by telephone by charities during
the holiday season.

• Decide how much money to spend on your loved ones and stick to
those amounts. Holidays can be a time when financial abuse may
happen. Plan ahead and be firm with your decisions.

• Holidays can be a lonely and sad time for some people. If you need
help dealing with any issues, please call 211. They can advise
you of the many agencies and community supports that are
available. You do not have to be or feel alone.

Stay safe!
I can be contacted at 684-1039 or diane.maclaurin@thunderbaypolice.ca

Nov. 2015

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Oct. 2015

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Sept 2015

Over the summer, there have been numerous frauds against seniors in our city. We still are seeing people believing that they will win lotteries, specifically the Jamaican Lottery Scam, by phone. IF YOU ARE PAYING ANY MONEY OUT TO WIN A PRIZE – IT IS A SCAM!!
Another new one showing up is a hydro scam. Seniors often get scammed by quick talking fraudsters on the telephone. A person will call you and say that your hydro is going to be shut off for non-payment. They will advise you of an amount (example $2,000) that is owed. If you do not pay within a short period of time, like an hour, they will come over and shut off your hydro. They will then advise you to go to the closest retailer that sells Visa or MasterCard pre-paid cards and buy $2,000 worth of cards.
You then contact them back with the numbers on front and the secret number you scratch off on the back. With that information, they can spend the cards. If you do participate, they often will try to scam you again. Hydro companies DO NOT ask you to buy pre-paid cards. If you have arrears, they will notify you by your normal statement method. IF IN DOUBT- CONTACT YOUR HYDRO PROVIDER BY DIRECTLY PHONING THEM YOURSELF – NOT WITH THE NUMBER PROVIDED BY THE SCAMMERS!
In June, the Community Elder Abuse Prevention Committee launched our Victims’ Voices DVD of four local victims of frauds. Public presentations will be held at the following locations. Please attend this free lecture and learn how people get victimized and what to do to prevent this financial abuse for yourself or a family member. These are powerful vignettes by brave seniors who want to help others. I will be doing the presentations.
Tuesday, September 29th 7pm Waverly Resource Library
Wednesday, September 30th 2pm Mary JL Black Library

Stay safe!
I can be contacted at 684-1039 or diane.maclaurin@thunderbaypolice.ca

June 2015

This is the last column until September so I want to start by wishing you all a safe summer season. Hope you have enjoyed the information I have shared with you over the past year.
Back in June 2013, the Community Elder Abuse Prevention Committee (CEAPC) from Thunder Bay applied for a New Horizons for Seniors Program Grant. This is through Human Resources and Skills Development Canada. We were successful in receiving funding and a core group has been diligently working on the project. The project is entitled Victims’ Voices – A Guide to Help With Financial Abuse.
It is a complete package consisting of pamphlets and a DVD of local individuals who were brave enough to share their financial abuse stories. MorVision Video Productions locally produced the DVD which highlights these four victims and their individual stories of financial abuse. Financial abuse is often accompanied by some form of emotional and psychological abuse and the DVD shows you how they are entwined. Presentations, using this video, will be made to groups and organizations in the upcoming months by trained members of the CEAPC. There is a training component built in to assist participants to understand financial abuse in order to be able to recognize it and prevent or stop being victimized themselves.
We have worked very hard to bring this project to the community. There is a media launch to show the video and would certainly welcome you to come out and support us.
June 15th is World Elder Abuse Awareness Day and we have chosen that date as our media launch. Location is Mary JL Black Library, 901 South Edward Street, starting at 1 pm. Refreshment provided. Please attend!
Stay safe!
I can be contacted at diane.maclaurin@thunderbaypolice.ca or 684-1039

May 2015

I would like to give you some information on risk factors for elder abuse. Perpetrators of elder abuse can include anyone in a position of trust, control or authority. This includes children, grandchildren, spouses, paid support workers, institution workers etc. It is important to remember an abuser can be ANYONE. Seniors who are especially vulnerable are those who live alone and have no adult caring family members or friends. These elders are particularly vulnerable to being taking advantage of by neighbours, friends or others who try to gain financial control. By acting friendly and helpful, the senior becomes dependent on that person and is open to being victimized.
With the aging of today’s population, there is certainly the potential that elder abuse will increase. It is important to learn the signs and where to turn for help. Below are some of the risk factors for elder abuse. If the senior –
• Has memory problems (dementia etc)
• Has physical disabilities
• Has depression, loneliness or lack of social supports
• Abuses alcohol or other substances
• Is verbally or physically combative with caregiver
• Has a shared living situation
• Has a gambling or other addiction
Below are also other risk factors, which include the possibility that a caregiver may be abusive. If the caregiver –
• Feels overwhelmed or resentful toward the senior
• Has a history of either substance and/or alcohol abuse
• Has a history of previous abuses (any types)
• Is dependent on that senior for housing, finances or other needs
• Has mental health problems
• Is under or unemployed
• Has some type of criminal history
• Has a shared living situation
Remember there are people to talk to and places to turn to if you or a loved one may be abused.
You can contact the Seniors Safety Line (toll free) 1 866 299-1011 or you can phone 211 at any time for resources available to you. There is a lot of information on the internet and their website is www.elderabuseontario.com. My phone number is also at the end of this article.
Stay safe!

I can be contacted at 684-1039 or
diane.maclaurin@thunderbaypolice.ca

April 2015
Water heater complaints
Last month, I wrote about door to door sales and how to protect yourself. I explained how there is a cooling off period of 10 days for any contract you sign at the door. Water heater rentals are among the top types of consumer complaints received by the Ministry of Consumer Services. For water heaters only, effective April 1, 2015 there will now be a 20 day cooling off period after the customer receives a copy of their signed contract.  There are some other new rules coming into effect on April 1, 2015 regarding door to door water heater sales.
Many people really struggle to say no to a salesperson at the door. Often the person is very skilled at keeping you listening to their pitch. You sometimes may get “talked into” signing a contract without having time to think of all ramifications of a new rental agreement.  Here are some practical ways to protect yourself.
•  Keep your outer door locked. If you open the inner door and do not want to talk to the person at your door, speak through the glass and say “no” and shut the door.
•  Ask for their name and company information. Ask to see their photo identification. They must carry photo identification.
•  If interested in the product, ask the salesperson to leave a copy of the contract. You can then read it over and think about it.
•  If the salesperson insist that everything has to be done that day, say no.
•  If a salesperson won’t leave, call police.
What has to go into a written contract?
Starting on April, 2015, suppliers must put certain information in the written contract which must include:
•  their name and contact information
•  a list of all the charges you will incur if you sign the contract
•  if it is a new, used or reconditioned water heater
•  the contract MUST have a special cover page written by the government. This includes the Consumer Protection Ontario logo in the top left corner.
•  It MUST include your rights and tips on what to think about before signing the contract.
•  there is some other specific information that has to be included on the contract or lease including warranty information, total leasing costs etc.
•  if the contract does not include all the required information the consumer can cancel it up to a year after signing it.
Also important to note is that during the 20 day cooling off period, the seller is not allowed to take any steps to remove the old water heater or deliver or install the new one. If they do, the consumer does NOT have to pay anything. If the consumer has already paid, they have one year to demand a full refund.
For more information and help –Consumer Protection Ontario @ 1 800 889-9768 or www.ontario.ca/consumers.
Stay safe! I can be contacted at 684-1039 or
diane.maclaurin@thunderbaypolice.ca

 

I would like to give you some information on risk factors for elder abuse. Perpetrators of elder abuse can include anyone in a position of trust, control or authority. This includes children, grandchildren, spouses, paid support workers, institution workers etc. It is important to remember an abuser can be ANYONE. Seniors who are especially vulnerable are those who live alone and have no adult caring family members or friends. These elders are particularly vulnerable to being taking advantage of by neighbours, friends or others who try to gain financial control. By acting friendly and helpful, the senior becomes dependent on that person and is open to being victimized.
With the aging of today’s population, there is certainly the potential that elder abuse will increase. It is important to learn the signs and where to turn for help. Below are some of the risk factors for elder abuse. If the senior –
• Has memory problems (dementia etc)
• Has physical disabilities
• Has depression, loneliness or lack of social supports
• Abuses alcohol or other substances
• Is verbally or physically combative with caregiver
• Has a shared living situation
• Has a gambling or other addiction
Below are also other risk factors, which include the possibility that a caregiver may be abusive. If the caregiver –
• Feels overwhelmed or resentful toward the senior
• Has a history of either substance and/or alcohol abuse
• Has a history of previous abuses (any types)
• Is dependent on that senior for housing, finances or other needs
• Has mental health problems
• Is under or unemployed
• Has some type of criminal history
• Has a shared living situation
Remember there are people to talk to and places to turn to if you or a loved one may be abused.
You can contact the Seniors Safety Line (toll free) 1 866 299-1011 or you can phone 211 at any time for resources available to you. There is a lot of information on the internet and their website is www.elderabuseontario.com. My phone number is also at the end of this article.
Stay safe!

I can be contacted at 684-1039 or
diane.maclaurin@thunderbaypolice.ca

April 2015
Water heater complaints
Last month, I wrote about door to door sales and how to protect yourself. I explained how there is a cooling off period of 10 days for any contract you sign at the door. Water heater rentals are among the top types of consumer complaints received by the Ministry of Consumer Services. For water heaters only, effective April 1, 2015 there will now be a 20 day cooling off period after the customer receives a copy of their signed contract.  There are some other new rules coming into effect on April 1, 2015 regarding door to door water heater sales.
Many people really struggle to say no to a salesperson at the door. Often the person is very skilled at keeping you listening to their pitch. You sometimes may get “talked into” signing a contract without having time to think of all ramifications of a new rental agreement.  Here are some practical ways to protect yourself.
•  Keep your outer door locked. If you open the inner door and do not want to talk to the person at your door, speak through the glass and say “no” and shut the door.
•  Ask for their name and company information. Ask to see their photo identification. They must carry photo identification.
•  If interested in the product, ask the salesperson to leave a copy of the contract. You can then read it over and think about it.
•  If the salesperson insist that everything has to be done that day, say no.
•  If a salesperson won’t leave, call police.
What has to go into a written contract?
Starting on April, 2015, suppliers must put certain information in the written contract which must include:
•  their name and contact information
•  a list of all the charges you will incur if you sign the contract
•  if it is a new, used or reconditioned water heater
•  the contract MUST have a special cover page written by the government. This includes the Consumer Protection Ontario logo in the top left corner.
•  It MUST include your rights and tips on what to think about before signing the contract.
•  there is some other specific information that has to be included on the contract or lease including warranty information, total leasing costs etc.
•  if the contract does not include all the required information the consumer can cancel it up to a year after signing it.
Also important to note is that during the 20 day cooling off period, the seller is not allowed to take any steps to remove the old water heater or deliver or install the new one. If they do, the consumer does NOT have to pay anything. If the consumer has already paid, they have one year to demand a full refund.
For more information and help –Consumer Protection Ontario @ 1 800 889-9768 or www.ontario.ca/consumers.
Stay safe! I can be contacted at 684-1039 or
diane.maclaurin@thunderbaypolice.ca

March 2015
Now is the time to remind you and your families about the dangers of renovation scams, charity scams and door to door high pressure sales. Keeping yourself informed and current helps prevent you becoming a victim.
In our area, door to door sales will start as the weather warms. It will get warmer (I hope!). Many companies will come into our city with high pressure tactics. The salespeople often work on commission and receive money for every person they can get to sign a contract. Alarm systems, energy providers, people pretending to be collecting for charities or selling magazine subscriptions are some examples. Many are legitimate businesses but do not offer the best deals for you.  Remember to take your time before signing any contract. Do not be pressured at the door. Local energy providers, such as Thunder Bay Hydro and Hydro One do not solicit.
If you do sign a contract, you can cancel any contract over $50 if you do so within 10 days. You must send a registered letter to the company, identifying the date you entered into the contract, request you wish to cancel and any identifying numbers that may apply. (example –  if there is a contract number, model number etc) You can contact the Ministry of Consumer and Business Services at 1 800 889-9768 for more information or check online.
Never be pressured by renovation salespeople. If you are in need of a new roof, windows or other work to your home, take your time and check more than one company. Make sure it is a reputable company by checking with friends, neighbours or family. Do not pay for all the work upfront. Be wary of people who show up unannounced to your door with great deals. Do your homework and check out the company!
Anyone can come to your door and say they are collecting for a charity. If you really wish to donate you can call the charity directly or ask the person at the door to leave a pamphlet or information and you can decide later. DO NOT let people into your house and then go search for your purse or wallet. If they need to use the washroom or phone it is not your responsibility to provide those services.
REMEMBER YOU ARE IN CONTROL – IF YOU DO NOT WISH TO BUY, SIMPLY SAY NO!
Stay safe!
I can be contacted at diane.maclaurin@thunderbaypolice.ca
or 684-1039

Feb. 2015
Recently, there has been an increase in frauds reported regarding lottery type scams by telephone fraudsters. I want to give you information
to keep yourself or others safe. Unfortunately seniors (and others) in Thunder Bay have lost thousands of dollars to these heartless scammers.
Mostly it has been the “Jamaican Lottery Scam”.
What is a lottery scam?
Someone will phone you, often with a Jamaican accent, and advise that you have been specially selected to win a prize or have been actually
awarded one of three grand prizes. The types of prizes usually will include a trip, cash or a luxury vehicle. You will then be told you must purchase a
certain product to get your prize or send money to cover the taxes, shipping and/or other fees.
Don’t be fooled by claims that the lottery is a well-known name like Publisher’s Clearinghouse, Reader’s Digest etc. They may also say that the offer
is legal or has government approval. These are all tricks designed to get you to participate.
How do you lose money?
Many lottery scams will trick you into providing your banking or other personal details in order to claim prizes. Victims are often told to send funds
via money service businesses such as Western Union, Money Gram or by loading money onto a prepaid credit card. The scammers will tell you how to
use these services and that you are sending money to one of their “agents”. Once you have sent money by these methods – it is gone. If you participate
ONCE they will be relentless with more phone calls to keep sending money. Often, victims try to recoup their losses and keep sending money in hope
of getting the prizes. The Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre estimates the average loss per victim is $6,200 and in 2012 they reported losses in excess of $2
million dollars!
The fraudsters also make money by you calling their premium rate phone numbers or sending premium text messages to claim your prizes. These
premium rate calls can be very expensive and the scammers will either try to keep you talking or give you another number to call. Be wary -the area
code for Jamaica is 876.
They also may send you a cheque for an amount (for example $5,000) and ask you to deposit the cheque in your account and withdraw an amount
(usually half – $2,500) and send that money to them by a money transfer. You will find out later that their cheque is fake but you will have already lost
the amount you sent by money transfer.
Do not think this does not happen in Thunder Bay. It does and there are victims who have been de-frauded of thousands of dollars. It is often
embarrassing for a victim and they do not see a way out.
How do I protect myself?
Any unsolicited phone call (or email, letter, text message etc) that says you have won a lottery is FAKE. You can only win if you have purchased a
ticket or entered in another format. There are never any upfront fees to receive prizes, sweepstakes or lottery winnings.
Never send any money to someone you do not know or trust. Check with friends, the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre (1 888 495-8501) or just do a
computer check of frauds. If you “Google” Jamaican lottery scam you will get tons of information. Check with your local police service. Once you send
money it is gone. It is very hard to prosecute these types of frauds.
Do not provide any banking information over the phone or via computer or mail that you do not know or trust. Take the time to research before
sending any money.
Hang up and do not participate in conversations with people saying you have won a contest. Once they get you talking, often they will convince you
their contest is real. The longer you stay on the phone the easier the chances you will become a victim.
If you are calling an unknown telephone number, you may be incurring expensive phone calls. If you are a Tbaytel customer, you can contact their
corporate security office @ 625-1499 and they can assist you if you want to trace unsolicited incoming calls. You can trace calls by calling 1157 either
on a rotary or cordless phone or *57 on a touch tone phone. This feature will only trace the LAST incoming caller – lift the handset, listen for a dial tone
and then dial *57 or 1157 (whichever applies as per the information above). You will receive a recording that the call has been successfully traced and
to contact the police. There is a cost for this feature and is $5 per trace with a maximum amount of $10 within your billing month.
Bottom line – if it is too good to be true –it probably is!
Stay safe!
I can be contacted at 684-1039 or diane.maclaurin@thunderbaypolice.ca

Jan. 2015

I want to continue with more information that might benefit you or your family members regarding safety and other concerns with Alzheimers’ disease or other dementias. These two programs are in our community and I wanted to make our community aware.

VON’s Adult Day Program

The VON Adult Day Program is designed for seniors who may be isolated and would benefit from socializing with others or those who would simply enjoy meeting new people. The program also supports seniors who are in need of regular assistance or adults with early Alzheimer’s disease and other related mild dementias. Participants are currently living in their own homes, with family or in a supportive living environment.

Their professional staff is specifically trained in Gerontology and Recreational Therapy in order to provide an enjoyable and beneficial social and recreational program. Their staff works closely with participants and their families to ensure that the goals of the program are met. Their program is intended to provide the optimum environment for people who are elderly or frail, as well as for individuals with various stages of dementia. A vital aspect of the program is also to provide respite for caregivers.

Planned daily activities are tailored to the individual’s needs to promote participation and personal enjoyment. They offer a variety of one-to-one and group activities which include: Fitness, guest speakers, Arts and Crafts, Discussion groups, Health promotion, Baking/cooking, outings, musical entertainment, exercise/fall prevention, horticultural therapy and more.

To be eligible, an individual must be 50 years or older and must not live in a Long Term Care facility. The individual needs to meet Community Care Access Centre criteria. Participants with mild cognitive limitations are welcomed and encouraged to attend the program; however, participants must not have a history of “wandering” as the setting is not secured with locked doors.

Hours of Operation: Tuesday to Friday 8:30am-4:30pm. Hours of attendance are flexible based on individual needs. A nominal daily fee helps to cover hot meals, snack and activity materials. Transportation with Lift is also available.

The program is located at the Hilldale Lutheran Church- 321 Hilldale Road.

Volunteers assist with many aspects of the program including crafts, entertainment, cooking and excursion. To volunteer for VON, please call 344-0012. For more information or to apply, call the NW CCAC at 345-7339 or the Adult Day Program at 343-9591 (Tuesday to Friday).

VON is a not-for-profit charity, providing community-based health care and support services. The Adult Day Program is funded by the Northwest Local Health Integration Network (LHIN) and by donations to VON.

Manor House Adult Day Program

St. Joseph’s Care Group’s Manor House Adult Day Program is a social and recreational program for older adults who have Alzheimer’s disease or a related dementia. Located in the Manor House at St. Joseph’s Heritage, this program helps seniors maintain their independence in the community for as long as possible. It also provides much needed respite for caregivers.

Clients will find the environment warm and welcoming, and they’ll be surrounded by caring staff and other seniors with similar experiences. Staff facilitate daily activities that focus on helping seniors utilize and maintain life skills. Social interaction is another important part of the program. The opportunity for seniors to socialize with peers experiencing similar challenges can help seniors stay connected within the community. Clients have shared feelings of improved self-worth, belonging, identity and purpose. This program fulfills a basic human need to belong and participate in meaningful activity.

We know that seniors want to age at home for as long as possible. Often, support and care are provided by family and friends to achieve this goal. The program provides care week-days so that caregivers are able to maintain balance in their lives. With consistent respite support, caregivers will have the opportunity to rejuvenate and regain emotional composure so they can re-dedicate themselves to their caregiving roles.

If you, or someone you know could benefit from the Manor House Adult Day Program, please call our Family/Client Support Facilitator at 768-4415.

Stay safe!

I can be contacted at 684-1039 or diane.maclaurin@thunderbaypolice.ca

Dec. 2014 MedicAlert Bracelets

What do you know about MedicAlert? The MedicAlert Foundation is a non-profit, charitable and membership-based organization dedicated to the well-being of others. It was founded in 1956 and their mission is to protect and save lives by serving as the global information link between members and emergency responders during medical emergencies and other times of need.

Any individual living with any medical condition such as diabetes, heart problems, epilepsy and any severe food or medical allergies are encouraged to wear a MedicAlert medical ID. If unable to afford the medical ID and fees associated, there are sponsored service plans available for qualified persons, made possible by generous donors. There are many different ID styles available including bracelets, key tags and necklaces.

MedicAlert has now partnered with the Alzheimer Society to provide a great service for persons living with dementia. This time of year is a great time to consider getting a loved one this gift to help protect them. More information can be found at www.medicalert.org or 1 800 432-5378. Specifically, if you are looking for information on the MedicAlert Safely Home Program contact the phone number on the poster or the Alzheimer Society of Thunder Bay @ 345-9556.

Stay safe!

I can be contacted at 684-1039 or diane.maclaurin@thunderbaypolice.ca

 

Nov. 2014

Many people have had nuisance calls and some may even be considered harrassing in nature. I have contacted Tbaytel Corporate Security and spoke to the manager and the information in this article should help. Following are some general guidelines that may assist you in dealing with such calls. Just a reminder that some of the information is specific to Tbaytel customers.

General

Tbaytel does not release information to customers about who has called them. The information is available to law enforcement for investigation. Customers must contact the police to initiate an investigation that involves harassing phone calls.

Tip – Customers: Do not engage in conversation with the harrasser. Hang up the phone. Write down the date and time of the call and anything you remember about what you heard. Depending on the type of call, following the guidelines below:

Landline (i.e. Home phone)

The phone numbers of the calling and called number are recorded for the last incoming/outgoing call only. If a customer receives a harrassing call on a Tbaytel landline, they should hang up, and then pick up the phone again and dial *57 to trace the last incoming call. If they receive another call before doing this, the information would be lost. After the call has been traced they can call the Police to file a report that they have been harrassed. The Police will contact Tbaytel Corporate Security to obtain the call information as required for their investigation. They can submit a report online at https://www.thunderbaypolice.ca/key-services/services/online-reporting or by calling 684-1200.

Tbaytel can block unwanted calls by the Selective Call Reject/Accept feature on a landline that will block/allow up to 12 numbers. This feature is available by calling Customer Service 623-4400.

Wireless

The phone numbers of the calling and called number are recorded for all incoming and outgoing calls. Customers do not need to do anything to initiate a trace. If they have been harassed on the cellular phone they should contact the Police per the same procedure as for Landline. Although we do record the phone numbers involved in a text message, the actual content is NOT recorded. Customers should not delete any harassing text messages, and take screen shots of the messages to preserve them if possible.

Tbaytel does not have features to reject/accept calls to a wireless device, however most modern Smartphones have applications or built in features for this.

Voicemail

Harrassing voicemail messages should be saved and reported to the Police immediately as well as Tbaytel Corporate Security by calling 625-2199. Voicemail messages are automatically deleted after only a few days and cannot be recovered, so it is important to report them ASAP.

Caller ID ??Spoofing??

Have you ever received a phone call and the display says 000-000 or some other odd looking number? With the technology today, calls can come from anywhere in the world. Often, scammers and other questionable marketing companies will use this type of calling.

Services that allow the public to make a phone call with a fake Caller ID are available and hide the true calling number. As these services are provided over the Internet and from overseas locations, Tbaytel has no ability to trace these types of calls. Complaints can still be made through the police, but Tbaytel does not typically have information for these investigations.

Tbaytel Corporate Security

807-625-2199 Mon-Fri 8am-4pm

Stay safe!

I can be contacted at 684-1039 or diane.maclaurin@thunderbaypolice.ca

 

Sept 2014

Now is the time to remind you and your families about the dangers of renovation scams, charity scams and door to door high pressure sales. Keeping yourself informed and current helps prevent you becoming a victim.

In our area, door to door sales will happen during warmer weather. (Who wants to stand on doorsteps during our winter months!)Many companies will come into our city with high pressure tactics. The salespeople often work on commission and receive money for every person they can get to sign a contract. Alarm systems, energy providers, people pretending to be collecting for charities or selling magazine subscriptions are some examples. Many are legitimate businesses but do not offer the best deals for you. Remember to take your time before signing any contract. Do not be pressured at the door. Local energy providers, such as Thunder Bay Hydro and Hydro One do not solicit.

If you do sign a contract, you can cancel any contract over $50 if you do so within 10 days. You must send a registered letter to the company, identifying the date you entered into the contract, request you wish to cancel and any identifying numbers that may apply. (example – if there is a contract number, model number etc) You can contact the Ministry of Consumer and Business Services at 1 800 889-9768 for more information or check online.

Never be pressured by renovation salespeople. If you are in need of a new roof, windows or other work to your home, take your time and check more than one company. Make sure they are a reputable company by checking with friends, neighbours or family. Do not pay for all the work upfront. Be wary of people who show up unannounced to your door with great deals. Do your homework and check out the company!

Anyone can come to your door and say they are collecting for a charity. If you really wish to donate you can call the charity directly or ask the person at the door to leave a pamphlet or information and you can decide later. DO NOT let people into your house and then go search for your purse or wallet. If they need to use the washroom or phone it is not your responsibility to provide those services.

REMEMBER YOU ARE IN CONTROL ? IF YOU DO NOT WISH TO BUY, SIMPLY SAY NO!

Stay safe!

I can be contacted at 684-1039 or diane.maclaurin@thunderbaypolice.ca

 

June 2014

June is finally here! Let??s hope for a great summer ? fingers crossed. The 6th Annual Seniors?? Rock Walk is here again for another year. The Community Elder Abuse Prevention Committee (CEAPC) is looking for YOUR participation.

We are encouraging all citizens to come out and show support for our seniors. If you are a senior, helping a senior, family member or just want to show you care ? please join us. Let??s show Thunder Bay we do have a giant heart!

Police Rock Walk Poster 2014

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

May 2014
Now that the roads are clearing of snow (hopefully!) there will be more people out cycling in our city. I want to remind people, both cyclists and motorists of some safety information. Bike lanes are now present on some of our city streets. Here is what you need to know.
What is a bike lane?
Bike lanes are 1.2 m wide and are separated from traffic by a solid white line. They have a road sign with a diamond shape and a bicycle on it and the words ??bike lane?? and an arrow pointing toward the lane. Right now, with our harsh winter, some of the pavement markings may not be as visible until the road crews can re-paint them. They will also have a diamond, bicycle symbol and a directional arrow stenciled onto the pavement.
Who can use bike lanes?
Bike lanes are ONLY for bicycles. They are not for pedestrians, roller blades, skateboards or strollers. On streets where there is on-street parking, bike lanes run to the left of parked vehicles. On streets without parking, bike lanes run alongside the curb. Bike lanes are designed to keep both motorists and cyclists safer. By having a dedicated lane to ride in, the expectation is better visibility for all who are on our roads.
How do bike lanes work?
Cyclists should travel in the middle of the designated bike lane and ride in the same direction as vehicle traffic. Cyclists MUST follow the same rules of the road as other vehicles including obeying all traffic signs and lights.
Motorists are not allowed to park or drive in a bike lane. They are also not allowed to park or wait in vehicles in a bike lane. You may cross a bike lane to make a right hand turn into a street or driveway. At intersections, there will be dotted white lines on the pavement. If you are turning right ? check over your right shoulder first. If there is a cyclist in the lane, give them the right of way first and then make your turn when the way is clear
ALWAYS CHECK FOR BIKES WHEN MAKING A RIGHT-HAND TURN. DO NOT ENTER THE BIKE LANE TO MAKE THE RIGHT?HAND TURN.
Signal that you are turning right. Stay in your vehicle lane, check over your right shoulder, give the cyclist the right of way if one is there and when clear, make your turn.
What do I do when the bike lane ends?
Cyclists should try to move in the straightest line possible to where you want to be when you reach the other side of the intersection. By keeping in a straight line, it allows the motorists to see you and helps them give you space on the road. Not all streets have or will have dedicated bike lanes. Both motorists and cyclists need to respect each other on our city streets so we all stay safe.
I am a cyclist and want more information
Safe Cycling Thunder Bay is a cycling education program run by EcoSuperior, in partnership with the City of Thunder Bay. The goal of the program is to reduce cycling-related injuries by offering cycling courses that help individuals develop the cycling skills and knowledge to commute and ride recreationally in a safe way. The courses are taught by certified professional instructors. There is a minimal cost for each type of course.
The courses are designed for all abilities and ages. There is more than one type of course offered. To find out more information ? contact the Safe Cycling Program Coordinator @ 624-2144 or check out safecyclingthunderbay.com
Stay safe! I can be contacted at 684-1039 or diane.maclaurin@thunderbaypolice.ca

April 2014
Now that spring? is here, I wanted to remind people of some of the issues that come with warmer weather. Door to door salespeople are more prevalent in the spring and summer. Most often, the salespeople are from out of town. They will flood a community and try to get as many people as they can to sign up to their products. These products can be alarm systems, gas or hydro contracts, vacuum cleaners, air purifiers, water heaters etc. The salespeople will get commissions on customers they sign up so often they are VERY aggressive in their techniques.
These techniques can border on dishonesty. They will word things in a way that is often confusing and hard to understand. These are all ways to get themselves into your house to give you their sales pitch. Once inside, they will often pressure you to sign a contract for their services. Some companies will give out free prize tickets. The tickets will have pictures of boats, cars or other high ticket items. Once you give the company your information, someone will come back later to try and sell you their product like a vacuum cleaner, air purifier or other items.
Other companies in town now may not even have a licence to operate locally. The City of Thunder Bay requires companies to have a peddler??s licence to conduct business. If a company receives lots of community complaints and/or does not comply with the regulations, they can be banned from doing business.
Another door to door problem is unscrupulous contractors. They will overcharge and may not provide the best work. DO NOT give cash deposits or pay for work until it is done. Get itemized estimates/quotes from more than one company before getting work done. Ask friends/family before getting work done to help with your decisions.
Another issue brought to the police attention recently is selling items, like gold or other expensive jewellery/items on consignment. You have to decide if you are willing to leave your possessions in a business to sell for you. There are risks you, as a consumer are taking with these types of transactions. Buyer or sellers beware!
Another unrelated fraud that is prevalent this time of year is the tax fraud. Someone will impersonate the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) or other police services. It will happen by email or phone and they will tell you that there is a tax refund for you. They will ask for your personal information in order to receive your money. Another method is that you owe back taxes. The fraudster will tell you to pay immediately to avoid penalties and/or arrest. Contact the Canada Revenue Agency yourself and DO NOT give out any personal information or money without verifying first.
Tips to help with door to door sales
??Do not open your door to people you don??t recognize. The high pressure sales techniques are
often hard to stop.
??Tell the salesperson to leave. If they refuse, contact police.
??Do not sign any contracts at the door.
??Be wary of gifts given for free to get you to sign a contract.
??If you are unsure about your own energy provider or water tank company, CALL THEM
DIRECTLY.
??Be a wise consumer when purchasing services and/or products. Research before buying or
signing.
??If you do sign a contract, you can cancel it within 10 days. Contact the Ministry of Consumer
Services at #?? 1 800 889-9768 to get more information.
??Be wary of one time deals and special pricing to get you to sign contracts or do deals on the
spot.
Stay safe!
I can be contacted at 684-1039 or diane.maclaurin@thunderbaypolice.ca

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