We’ve all heard stories about friends, relatives, or acquaintances who have fallen victim to financial scams. Or a ‘friendly’ telemarketer claims you’ve won a trip or a major prize, and you just need to provide your banking information to claim it.
The ways in which criminals try to fraudulently get your money continues to grow, and despite warnings from police forces, consumer advocacy groups, and government agencies for all of us to be on alert in order to avoid falling prey, one group in particular is increasingly being targeted – older adults.
The financial exploitation of older adults has been recognized as a serious problem, associated with major consequences such as increased mental and physical health problems, more hospitalization, shortened survival, and diminished quality of life. However, knowledge about the extent of the problem is mostly limited to ‘financial abuse,’ which is perpetrated within a relationship of trust, such as family or caregivers. Little is known about elder financial fraud and scams, which are perpetrated by strangers.
Never give out information to an unsolicited caller.
Government agencies such as the Canada Revenue Agency will not threaten you with deportation or make urgent requests for money by prepaid credit card, or a money wire service such as MoneyGram or Western Union.
Be very careful when someone offers you money to help transfer funds. Once you send money to someone, it is impossible to get it back.
Be suspicious if someone you don’t know asks you to send them money or a cheque, or to return money they ‘accidentally’ sent you.
Do not click on pop-up windows or respond to emails, open attachments, or go to website links sent by people you do not know. Your bank or credit union will not send you anything by email unless you ask them to.
Do not respond to offers of money, threats of legal action, or warnings about ‘compromised security’. No legitimate company will call and claim your computer is infected with a virus.
Treat your personal details like you would treat money, don’t leave them lying around for others to take.
Carry only the credit cards and identification you actually need.
Keep all personal documents in a secure place. If you don’t need them, do not carry your birth certificate, passport, or SIN card.
Destroy personal information, don’t just throw it out. Ensure that items such as credit card applications, charge receipts, insurance forms, and bank statements are shredded and safely disposed of.
Never give out your credit card, bank account, or personal information to someone over the phone, at the door, or over the internet unless you know the person or organization you are dealing with, or unless you made the contact.
Immediately report lost or stolen credit cards and any discrepancies in your monthly statements to the issuing credit card company.
Never share or disclose your passwords to anyone.
Avoid mail solicitations disguised as promotions that request personal information.
For more information call the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre at 1-888-495-8501