Have you just mailed a cheque to a telephone caller who has promised you a holiday for two in the sunny south - free? Have you just been advised by phone you've won a grand prize and that a brand new car will be delivered to your home in two weeks?
Have you also been told that the only responsibility on your part is to send a cheque for a small sumof money to cover the cost of the delivery of your new car to your home? Or that you must send a small amount of money to cover the insurance on that wonderful trip or...or... or?
Are you feeling so depressed or ashamed or shocked at what you have done that you are afraid to mention it to anyone?
If you have answered "yes" to any of the above questions you probably realize by now that you are the victim of telephone fraud.
The good news to this very real and very frightening situation is that help is available; that working with Phonebusters will bring you one step closer to solving your problem or at least prosecuting the criminals who took your money. And chances are you will be one of many, many people who say, "Make sure it doesn't happen to anyone else!"
Now where does Women's Institutes fit into this scenario, you ask. Mary Lou Norton, Education Coordinator for FWIO of Bloomfield has been charged with the task of partnering with Phonebusters to bring information about telephone fraud to not only the communities directly around her home of Price Edward County but to all areas of our province. A huge task, a huge responsibility but one this coordinator takes on with relish.
"We as WI members are challenged to make a difference in our communities, to initiate 'healthier and safer communities'."
What is most heartening to Norton and her committees is that the Southeastern Ontario District Health Council has given their support to Women's Institutes in this initiative to bring Phonebusters to local communities and they will encourage other District Health Councils across the province to do likewise.
Telephone fraud is causing so much pain and anguish to people of all ages, and especially our older citizens that when WI brings Phone busters to community after community across the province to teach people how to handle suspicious calls, how to walk away from the temptation of "winning" prizes and awards etc. WI members will feel they have lived up to the goals of their organization.
Mary Lou Norton FWIO Education Coordinator says it will take up to two years for Phone busters in conjunction with WI and a host of supporting organizations and businesses including OPP, ABC Fraud, Crimestoppers, banks, courier services, etc. __________________________________________________
But thanks to the WI - presentations will begin immediately.
Schedule of Presentations:
May 17, Bancroft, Hastings County - evening;
May 18, Prince Edward County- afternoon and evening presentations. This will be the official launching of the Provincial Program;
May 19 - Northumberland County -Brighton - afternoon and Warkworth - evening;
May 20, Lennox and Addington County;
May 25, Hastings County;
May 26, Frontenac County,
May 27, Carleton/Grenville;
May 31, Leeds County;
June 1, Renfrew County;
June 2, Lindsay and Stormont, Dundas and Glengarry
June 3, Lanark County
Locations are not all finalized but they can contact Mary Lou Norton at 613-393-2052 or fax 613-393-5374, or write RR 2, Bloomfield, Ont. K0K 1G0.
These presentations will inform the general public of the kinds of pitches telemarketers use to dupe people. They will inform listeners of the extent of this criminal activity across Canada and USA and those present will learn how little in the way of punishment is meted out to perpetrators of this crime. There will be time for citizens to voice their dismay of how little is being done and encourage MPPs to move towards more deterrents, more effective punishment.
Readers are encouraged to check local papers, bulletin boards etc. for information of location, times, etc. in their communities. The summer program in Eastern Ontario will be followed by a similar group of presentations in Bruce, Grey Huron counties in the fall.
If you are involved with assisting seniors, if you have a senior in your family, if you are presently being badgered by someone on the telephone, these meetings are for you.
Readers may want to contact Phone busters by email at email@example.com; by phone at 1-888-495-8501. Also learn more about Phonebusters at www.gov.ca/phonebusters/page2.html and about the Federated Women's Institutes of Ontario at 222.fwio.on.ca
-- WI Matters is a new column on a regular basis in this publication. For comments about any of our column topics contact FWIO Public Relations Coordinator Carol Helfenstein at firstname.lastname@example.org. or call 1-519-0559 or write to C. Helfenstein, RR1, Kincardine, Ont., N2Z 2X3.