Avoid These Financial Frauds That Target Seniors
Published on December 22, 2022
Elderly financial fraud can happen to you! It happens every day to thousands of unsuspecting seniors across Canada. Modern technology and the availability of personal information online make it easier for scammers to be undetected.
Must-Know Senior Financial Frauds
Financial fraud is an everyday occurrence across the country with the Canadian Department of Justice warning seniors are the most targeted by scammers. Senior financial fraud cases vary by method and techniques. Below are some types of fraud to be aware of.
This form of elder fraud begins as a telephone call to a senior from their teenage or adult “grandchild”. The scammer uses the basic “hi grandma/grandpa. It’s me. I need help” to prompt the senior to state the name of a grandchild. The scammer then asks for a money wire transfer for an emergency situation and pleads that the grandparent “does not tell mom or dad”.
Home Repair Scam
Another type of common senior fraud is the home repair scam. Using door-to-door sales tactics, these scammers pose as technicians or city employees to gain access to the home. After entering the home, scammers find non-existent issues that require immediate and expensive repair. The most popular home repair scam? An imposter claiming to be a roofer asks for money upfront to replace a “bad” roof, and once paid, never returns.
Caregiver Financial Fraud
Sadly, most cases of senior financial fraud are performed by a trusted caregiver, albeit a family member or an employee of a local healthcare organization. This provides an opportunity for the caretaker to gain insight and access to a senior’s finances. Fraud may also appear as a “kind gesture” by the senior to help a caretaker who claims to be in dire straits financially.
Health Insurance Fraud
Health insurance fraud is one of the fastest growing financial exploitations facing seniors. When a scammer has the basic personal and health insurance information, they can easily submit claims for services rendered without the knowledge of the “client”. This is often seen with telephone scams and can be done by a family member.
With the need for retirement planning and management of pension funds, scammers use this opportunity to set up fake accounts and documentation. Once a percentage of the senior’s savings is directed to the scammer, the financial accounts can be emptied immediately or set to have monies transferred to a fake account.
Funeral Home Scams
Death of a loved one can be a gold mine for scammers as they pry on grieving widowers and family members. Published obituaries provide a great source of information for scammers by names, locations, and a brief history of the loved one. Aside from scammers demanding money owed by the deceased, some scammers may claim to be funeral home operators and sell fictional services.
Marketing scams are found in forms of correspondence through mail, telephone, and email. From household items to services, the sales pitch for bigger and better at a lower price turns out to be false. The victim’s name and information can also be passed along to other scammers.
Fake Prescription Drugs Scam
Rising costs of prescriptions are forcing many seniors to turn to other avenues to get the medications they need. Fake e-commerce sites promise the same prescription at lower costs but either send fake pills or not send any at all. These scams have a major impact on a senior’s health and finances.
Online Shopping Fraud
Obtaining the latest advertised gadget or saving 75% on an expensive item can make a person feel excited. This is how online scammers attempt to get credit card information through fake websites. With the majority of our personal information stored online, scammers are able to use credit cards for their own financial gain in various methods.
Holiday Shopping Scam
The Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre claims November, December, and January see more scams in retail sales and charitable donations. The holiday rush, increasing prices, and the desire to save money can lower a person’s guard against potentially fraudulent activities. Temporary pop-up shops and online sites often sell fake goods as a front for a black market.
How Can Seniors Protect Themselves from Financial Scams and Frauds?
There are a few things to avoid and steps to take to help protect your finances and your physical, mental, and emotional health.
Avoid Online Financial Scams
Online websites and services are the biggest resources for scammers.
1. Install security software on your computer or laptop
2. Monitor the domain name of websites as scammers create fake sites of reputable companies
3. Ensure settings of all social media platforms are private
4. Do not click on links in suspicious emails
5. Call or visit your local bank if you receive a suspicious message
6. Be wary of new online friends that ask for money or proclaim love quickly
Avoid Financial Frauds on the Phone
Modern technology has provided scammers methods to use the names of reputable companies to appear as the caller.
1. If the caller offers a free prize or a cheap deal on a vacation, immediately hang up
2. Do not give any personal information or banking information over the phone
3. Assertive scammers may pose as government officials or bill collectors threatening legal action. Hang up!
4. Tell a trusted family member about any fraudulent calls
Avoid In-person Financial Fraud
Fraudsters are returning to the door-to-door salesperson tactic to enter a senior’s home.
1. Do not open the door or invite anyone you do not know into your home
2. Ask for a business card and tell the person you will be in touch for more information
3. Do not have valuables in sight
4. Do not sign a blank cheque regardless of the apparent urgency
Try Safe and Secure Senior Living Options to Avoid Such Frauds
At V!VA Retirement Communities, we focus on the physical and emotional well-bring of all residents. By providing personalized care, social activities, and support systems, we hope to encourage community engagement in a safe living space.
As one of the few strong and successful privately-owned and independent developers in the senior living field, we have locations in Barrhaven, Mississauga, Pickering, Thornhill Woods, Ancaster, Carleton Place, Oakville, and Whitby.