Canadian Seniors and Fraud: Tips for How to Stay Safe!

Old senior man holding piggy bank protecting his savings

It’s a sad fact: older adults are common targets for fraud.   While anyone can be a victim of fraud, it is the number one crime against older Canadians. This could be because seniors are more likely to be home during the day to answer the door or telephone, or maybe it’s because of their trusting nature. In any case, there are many different scams out there. This article addresses some of the most common types of fraud, and how you can protect yourself or your loved ones from becoming a victim.

Identity Theft. This is becoming increasingly popular with advances in technology. Identity theft occurs when someone steals another person’s personal information so they can assume that person’s identity and apply for a credit card, take out a mortgage or withdraw bank funds. The con artist will try to get information such as a bank card and Personal Identity Number (PIN), credit card number, social insurance number, etc.   Stay Safe! Keep your eyes on your credit card, memorize your PIN and shield your hand when you enter your PIN. Shred banking documents or mail with personal information before recycling it. If your purse or wallet is stolen, or if banking statements you’re expecting go missing from your mailbox, report it right away to your bank or credit union.

Online Scams. There are many online scams and new ones appear all the time. Some ask for your help, such as when they say there is a problem with your bank account or tax return. Some emails are rife with spelling errors or fake company logos: others are very sophisticated and can look like they are coming from a person or company you trust. Stay Safe! Call the company to check whether or not they are really looking for such information, but don’t use the number provided in the questionable email. Look up the telephone number online. Do not click on pop-up windows or open email attachments from people you don’t know. Remember: your bank or credit union will not send you anything by email unless you ask them to.

Phone or door-to-door scams. This occurs when someone pretends to be a representative of a charity, an employee of a credit card company or public utility company, or even a distant relative. A recent scam in the Niagara region targeted seniors in local retirement homes. The con artist tells the person that they have won a fabulous trip for two: all they have to do to claim their prize is to send some money. Stay Safe! Never give your bank card, credit card or personal information to someone you don’t know, unless you made the contact first. Don’t send money to people you don’t know. Don’t sign an agreement to buy anything without first taking time to think it over, even if the salesperson insists that it’s a ‘limited time offer’. A legitimate offer that exists today should still be available tomorrow.

Remember that not all scams target a large sum of money from one individual: sometimes they ask for a small amount from a lot of different people. Don’t be ashamed or embarrassed if this happens to you. If you suspect that you have been a victim of fraud, call your local police and report it.

The RCMP has created a comprehensive list of common scams and how to avoid them. Visit: http://www.rcmp-grc.gc.ca/pubs/ccaps-spcca/seniors-aines-eng.htm

Article source: http://www.seniors.gc.ca/eng/working/fptf/fraudsandscams.shtml.