Clark's Crossing Gazette

June 15 marks World Elder Abuse Awareness DayFree Access

Financial abuse is one of the most common forms of senior abuse in Canada. This World Elder Abuse Day, which falls annually on June 15, the Financial and Consumer Affairs Authority reminds all seniors, their friends, families, and caregivers to be alert for the signs of financial abuse, investment scams, and fraud.

“One in three people in this province knows a senior who has been a victim of financial abuse,” FCAA Securities Division Executive Director Dean Murrison said. “That high number tells us that seniors need to be aware of the many forms financial abuse can take and must exercise caution when involving someone in financial decisions.”

While every demographic is susceptible to fraud, seniors are particularly vulnerable to financial exploitation by fraudsters or occasionally unethical family members.

Financial abuse can take many forms and is often perpetrated by family or friends. The most common forms of elder financial abuse in Saskatchewan are family loans not being repaid, misuse of debit cards, credit cards, or online banking by family members or others with access, and being pressured to give monetary gifts involuntarily or to sign documents they did not understand.

Frauds targeting seniors can take many forms. Some of the most common scams to look out for include:

* Romance scams: Fraudsters use social media and online dating websites to befriend seniors using fake identities. Once the fraudsters have established a relationship, they will ask for money, often for an emergency expense like a sick relative.

* Prize scam: A fraudster will contact a senior and claim they have won a large prize, and ask for a payment to cover the taxes or legal fees. Watch out for anyone asking you to pay them to receive a prize.

* Emergency/grandparent scam: A fraudster will contact a senior claiming to be a relative stuck in some sort of emergency, such as an overseas hospital stay.

* Investment opportunities: A fraudster will pitch a too-good-to-be-true investment opportunity, often using the lure of increased retirement income. These frauds will use a variety of ways to contact the senior, including websites, promoting seminars, cold calling, or an unethical family member pressuring the senior to invest.

Here are some red flags and preventative tips for seniors so they can protect themselves from exploitation:

* If you receive “prize offers” without engaging or enrolling with the business offering the prize, do not reply to them.

* If someone emails, texts, or calls asking for personal or banking information, do not provide the information.

* If someone randomly sends you a cheque, asks you to deposit it and then wire a specific amount of money to an address, do not cash the cheque.

* If you receive an email with an attachment from people you do not know, do not open or download the attachments.

* Be cautious of someone offering to help you with your financial decisions, especially if they contacted you unexpectedly.

If a senior has faced financial exploitation or if fraud has occurred, contact local police, the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre and the Securities Division of the FCAA at 306-787-5936 or enforcementfcaasd@gov.sk.ca.

For more information about senior financial abuse and tips for family members and caregivers visit fcaa.gov.sk.ca/financial-literacy/seniors/senior-financial-abuse.