Financial Abuse of Seniors
What is Financial Abuse of Seniors?
Financial Abuse of Seniors also known as Senior financial exploitation or Seniors fraud, is a specific type of fraud that targets Seniors. The offender may be someone known to the victim such as a family member or friend, or they could be a complete stranger, in either case, with the goal of financially benefitting from deception and / or abuse.
Why are Seniors Being Targeted?
Seniors are being targeted for a variety of reasons, from their demographics to their financial position, and are considered to be an easy target for fraud or abuse due to their trusting nature or age. The most common reasons include the following:
Isolation: A majority of Seniors are isolated and are in limited communication with friends and family members. As a result, they do not have someone to speak to in connection with offers made to them or unwittingly involved themselves in.
Trusting: Seniors are known to be more trusting and as a result more vulnerable to fraud and abuse.
Poor Decision-Making: As individuals age, they can become more vulnerable when it comes to decision making and in such cases, they may be susceptible to mistakes.
Technology: As the growth in technology continues to move forward and tasks such as banking and services become more independent, Seniors are becoming more and more susceptible to advanced fraud schemes such as phishing emails and vishing calls.
Common Problems: Seniors tend to have common concerns such as medical costs, proper health care coverage and financial security, particularly as retirement funds run out. Fraudsters are aware of such common concerns and it therefore becomes easier for them to target Seniors.
Examples of Fraud, Scams and Abuse
Grandparent Scam: Seniors are targeted based on the premise that a grandchild is in danger and that funds are needed to bail out or protect him / her. Information (used to make the situation genuine) is usually gathered in advance by fraudsters before making contact with Seniors through social media or previously compromised information.
Love Scam: The scam will target lonely Seniors with the promise of love and happiness through a potential long term relationship. Individuals are usually targeted through social media sites and once their trust is built, an inevitable request for funds or assistance will follow.
Investment Scam: In most cases, Seniors are on a fixed income and just like anybody would like to find ways to make their money grow. Fraudsters are aware of this and present scams in which a high rate of interest or return is promised. The rate promised is always higher than what is offered in the market and in many cases the rate is unheard of such as 10 to 20 percent return per month. At first, returns might be issued but in all cases, the funds invested will eventually be lost as the purported investment manager will just disappear.
Elderly Abuse: This type of abuse solely targets Seniors and can manifest into physical as well as financial abuse in which the perpetuator is often someone close to the Senior such as a caregiver or family member. Some signs of such abuse are unexplained physical injuries, unexplained transactions or negative behavioral changes.
Sweepstakes and Lottery Scams: In this type of scam, fraudsters will inform a Senior that they have won a lottery or sweepstakes of some kind. In order to claim the supposed prize, the Senior will need to either make an upfront fee payment or deposit a cheque provided by the fraudster which will turn out to be fraudulent.
Protecting Yourself from Financial Fraud
If it’s too good to be true, it probably is: If you are being presented with an offer for an extraordinarily high return investment or have been informed that you have won a lottery for something that you do not recall enrolling in it is probably a questionable notice or offer.
Protect your personal information: Be aware of schemes that ask for personal or financial information. Do not respond to unsolicited requests for your personal information or confidential information.
Always research into the company or the offer to verify its authenticity: As information has become more accessible with the advancement of technology, a vast amount of information is easily available for you to verify the authenticity of a particular company, offer or individual. If they are legitimate, proper information should be found online in order for you to verify what you are being told.
Remember that law enforcement and government agencies will never contact individuals for money: Regardless if the caller is claiming to be calling from local or international law enforcement or government agency, please remember these entities will never call directly asking for money.
Never move money for strangers: Criminals want you to do their banking for them. If they earn your trust, they may use your account to cash phony cheques, collect funds from other accounts, and move stolen money offshore. They use a variety of schemes to convince you that they are legitimate. Some will even give you money to earn your trust. By accepting and re-directing electronic deposits (such as wire transfers), you could be participating in a money-laundering scheme if those deposits were proceeds of a fraud or other criminal activity. The stories vary, but the results are the same: fraud and financial loss.
Where Can You Go for Help?
If you think you are experiencing financial abuse, ask for help!
You may visit your local Seniors centre, or even ask your care provider or health care professional for where you can go for advice, if you do not have a family member or close friend who can help you.
Contact your financial institutions, Equifax and/or TransUnion to place a fraud alert on your file(s) if your personal information has been compromised.
If the matter is concerning your account(s) with ICICI Bank Canada, call our 24-hour Customer Contact Centre at 1-888-424-2422.
Report all frauds and scams to your local police, or call the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre at 1-888-495-8501.
The Government of Canada offers a variety of programs to help you ensure your golden years are safe and secure. Visit Canada.ca/Seniors or call 1-800-OCanada (1-800-622-6232) to learn about what is available to you.