Fraud is the number one crime against senior Canadians. Though people of all ages can be victims of fraud, seniors are targeted more often because they can be more trusting and may not have family or friends close by to ask for a second opinion. Scams are not always committed by a stranger, sometimes it is the senior’s own family who is involved in the crime. Senior scams can happen anytime and you need to be careful.
Common Senior Scams
One of the most common scams involves a fake telemarketing call of some type. Seniors make many purchases over the phone and aren’t always aware of the risk involved. Once their information is received by the scammer, it’s sold to other scammers and the fraud continues.
Another scam heard of quite often is where the senior receives a phone call telling them that a member of their family has been hurt or is in the hospital in another city. They are asked to send money. Always check on your own to see if these calls have any truth to them. A simple call to the hospital mentioned or the police department in that city can confirm or deny what you were told in the call.
Also be careful of any calls that mention your home or a mortgage. Quite often these are scammers who are trying to take advantage of the fact that many seniors own their home, which is a valuable asset. Investment schemes follow the same pattern and have long been a very successful way to take advantage of older people.
Another easy way to fraudulently acquire someone else’s assets is through internet fraud. Seniors can be easy targets for the multitude of fraudsters that fool their victims into downloading fake programs or purchasing items that don’t exist. They may start with a phone call and then ask for your email address. Most involve fooling the senior into giving away banking or tax information electronically. These emails may look legitimate but know that your bank and the government would never send you an email asking for password information.
Identity theft is very common and is done when someone steals your personal information so they can pretend to be you. Using this information, they can apply for loans, credit cards and mortgages. Always report lost credit or debit cards to your bank right away, and you can contact the government about having identification reissued.
Here are a few ways to protect yourself from senior scams:
- Keep all personal documents in a secure place.
- Never tell another person your PIN or account number.
- Do not respond to e-mails, open attachments or go to website links sent by people you do not know.
- Never give out your credit card, bank account, or personal information to someone over the phone or over the internet unless you made the contact and they are known and trusted.
- Do not send money to someone you don’t know.
- Tell a family member if you are approached about something that seems to good to be true.
- Research on the internet latest senior scams articles so you stay very aware.