Seniors get crash course in fire safety, identity theft

Rosthern seniors recently picked up some valuable tips on a couple of hot topics.
Rosthern Fire Chief Darcy Hrycuik outlined the basics of fire prevention and fire safety at an informational seminar at the Rosthern Seniors Centre on Wednesday, October 4.

Rosthern Fire Chief Darcy Hrycuik

At the same event, Adele Peters of Affinity Credit Union provided advice on how seniors can protect themselves from identity theft and fraud.
Because many seniors live in multi-unit residences, it’s important they have a “fire plan,” according to Hrycuik.
“Have a location, such as a common area, where all the residents can gather and meet,” said Hyrcuik. “That way you can keep track of each other and that helps us figure out if anyone is missing and whether we need to do a search.”
Hrycuik urged seniors to not hesitate about calling the fire department in an emergency.
“Some people are afraid to call the fire department,” said Hrycuik. “Don’t be. We would rather come and not be needed than to not be called and be needed.”
Hrycuik said Fire Prevention Week is an ideal time for residents to check their smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors, as well as ensuring their fire extinguishers are in working order.
“If you aren’t sure how to do that, give us a call,” said Hrycuik. “We can make arrangements to check those for you.”
Hrycuik said residents need to make sure their furnace rooms are not cluttered, and that no flammable material is stored anywhere near a furnace. In addition he said, the furnace filters and vents should be checked to ensure sufficient air flow.
Adele Peters said identity theft and fraud is a major issue in Canada.
And while seniors are a favourite target of criminals, they’re not the only ones who are victimized.
“In 2014, about 42,000 Canadians reported they were victims of some form of mass marketing fraud,” said Peters. “It costs the economy about $75 million per year.”
Peters said thieves come up with new ways to trick people all the time.
“Even those of us who work in the financial services sector have to beware of the new scams that surface every day,” she said. “We have IT security departments that test us on a regular basis.”
She said thieves are looking for personal information like people’s addresses, bank account numbers, PIN numbers, passwords, and social insurance numbers.

Affinity Credit Union’s Adele Peters provides information at a Rosthern Seniors Association meeting October 4

“Sensitive documents, like cheques, credit card statements, bank statements, driver’s licenses and vehicle registration, should never be left in your vehicle,” she said. “It’s too easy for someone to steal them, especially if you don’t lock your car.”
Peters said fraud artists use phone calls, computer e-mails and bogus online websites to lure people into their traps.
“If something sounds too good to be true, it quite likely is,” she said.
Peters said fraudsters often masquerade as representatives of financial institutions or the Canada Revenue Agency. They try and put undue pressure on their victims.
“If you’re not sure about whether a call is legitimate or not, hang up and phone the company they claim to be with, back,” she said. “Above all, don’t ever release any personal or banking information to someone you are unsure of.”
She said some scams claiming to be job offers are actually money-laundering or pyramid sales schemes, both of which are illegal.
She encouraged residents to not do any personal banking or online purchases when using non-secure wi-fi internet connections.
“Also, make sure you keep your receipts and shred them,” she said. “Identity thieves can pick up your debit or credit card information from those receipts.”