Financial abuse affects many seniors in Canada. Because of this, seniors, family members, friends, and caregivers should be aware of tips to keep seniors’ finances safe and out of the hands of fraudsters.
For information about senior financial abuse consult the resources below.
Here are some common financial frauds that target seniors:
Investment seminars: these fraudulent seminars promote specific investments or tax breaks. These seminars often sound “too good to be true”. After taking the fraudster up on the opportunity and paying money for the seminar, you may find that the information provided is not appropriate and risky. The fraudster uses high pressure sales tactics to get you to invest on the spot.
Offshore investment scam: when you are asked to send your money “off shore” to another country to avoid taxes or make large returns. Often they will ask you keep the investment confidential. Once it’s in someone else’s control, it is virtually impossible to track your money or get it back.
Subscription/free trial scam: you receive an offer for a free trial but need to enter credit card information in order to receive the offer. Later, you will notice you have been charged monthly fees. Make sure to read over the fine print thoroughly as you might have inadvertently agreed to pay for a monthly subscription.
Sweepstakes and lottery scams: you have been told you have won a lottery or sweepstakes and need to respond to the sender immediately with money or your credit card information to “claim your prize”. Any money given will likely never be seen again and there will be no prize.
The grandparent scam: a fraudster calls and pretends to be a grandchild and asks the senior to wire money to resolve an unexpected or emergency financial problem. If the money is wired, it is not traceable and the money will never be seen again.
The gift card scam: a fraudster contacts you, claiming to be from the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) and threatens that you owe money. The fraudster will say that you can pay with pre-paid credit cards or gift cards (from retailers such as Amazon or iTunes). The CRA does not operate in this manner so do not send them gift cards.
Websites offering “Big Returns”: fraudsters will set up highly sophisticated investing websites promising big returns for a small investment. They also issue press releases that make false claims about their investment’s performance. These websites are usually fictitious and if you invest, your money will be gone.
Here are red flags that may indicate a scam or fraudster:
A new friend, relative, or caregiver suggests they start taking control of your finances.
You receive “prize offers” without engaging or enrolling with the business offering the prize.
Anyone asking you for money.
Calls from strangers asking for you to wire them money or offering to wire you money.
Someone offers you something that is “too good to be true.”
You are asked to keep information secret.
Someone calls asking for access to your computer.
Someone calls asking for your banking information (such as your PIN, your credit card number, or the three-digit security code on the back of the card) or your personal information (such as your birthday, social insurance number, or driver’s license number).