Senior Financial Abuse

Senior Financial Abuse

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.



Common frauds
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.


Red flags for seniors

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).


Red flags for family members and caregivers

Here are some red flags that may indicate a senior has or is being targeted by a fraudster:

  • A senior starts talking about a new “friend” and their helpful financial advice.
  • A new friend, relative, or caregiver starts conducting financial transactions on behalf of the senior without proper authorization or through an unexpected power of attorney.
  • The senior express excitement over a financial windfall or prize cheque.
  • Sudden appearance of uninvolved family members or friends claiming rights to the senior’s possessions.
  • Noticeable changes in banking habits, such as NSF (non-sufficient funds) activity or inconsistent transactions.
  • They withdraw large sums of money from their bank accounts.
  • Suspicious signatures on cheques.
  • Behavioral changes such as depression, fear and/or memory loss.
  • Reluctance to talk about financial matters.
  • Isolation from family members and friends.
  • Missing appointments to go over finances.
  • Change in signing authority on accounts.


Preventative steps for seniors

Here are some steps you can take to protect yourself:

  • If someone emails, texts or calls asking for personal or banking information, do not provide the information.
  • Get independent legal advice before signing contracts or agreements involving your bank accounts, property or purchasing of investments.
  • Never wire money to a stranger and never accept money from a stranger.
  • Before making financial decisions, talk to your financial professional.
  • Be proactive and discuss with your advisor how to operate your accounts should you not be able to do it yourself.
  • Do not let family members or caregivers pressure you into making financial decisions.
  • If appointing a power of attorney, make sure it is with someone you trust and consult a lawyer.
  • Add anti-virus software to your computer.
  • If someone calls asking for money and they claim to be someone you know, do not give them the money until you verify their identity and the situation.
  • Do not download email attachments from people you don’t know. They could be trying to gain access to your computer.


Preventative steps for family members and caregivers

Here are some steps you can take to protect a senior from scams:

  • Tell them not to give out personal or banking information if someone emails, texts or calls asking for it.
  • Make sure antivirus software is installed and up to date on their computer.
  • Tell them to not reply to sweepstake offers and unsolicited mail.
  • Stay actively involved in their day-to-day life and ask what happened during their day.
  • Tell them to call you or someone they trust before they make a financial decision.


Reporting a fraud

If you or a loved one has faced financial exploitation or if fraud has occurred, contact the following organizations:

  • Local police or RCMP
  • Financial and Consumer Affairs Authority - contact Securities Division of the FCAA at (306) 787-5936 or

Financial and Consumer Affairs Authority

4th Floor, 2365 Albert Street

Regina, SK, S4P 4K1

Tel: (306)787-5645

Fax: (306)787-5899


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