Elder financial abuse: Protecting seniors from scams
We recognized World Elder Abuse Awareness Day on June 15, 2020. The elderly are the most frequent target of fraud scams, according to the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners. These often occur by phone, at your door step or through advertisements involving contest, charity, home improvement, investment or wire transfer schemes.
We can all be vulnerable to scams at any point in our lives. That’s why at CIBC, one of our top priorities is protecting our clients’ information. Here are some useful insights to help you recognize and prevent common fraud scams.
Fraudsters are taking advantage of the pandemic by exploiting consumers’ fears using various schemes.
- Unsolicited calls, emails and texts requesting payment in exchange for medical advice about COVID-19, fake medical products like masks or financial relief.
- Recommendations to download COVID-19 related apps or software through a website or email.
- Fraudulent charities requesting donations.
- Keep personal information confidential, and remain cautious when opening email attachments or clicking links from unknown senders. They may contain malicious software and damage your computer or enable fraudsters to steal your personal information.
- Monitor your transactions regularly and report suspicious charges promptly.
- When shopping online look for two simple signs that tell you your data will be encrypted for your security:
- A "padlock" icon should appear at the top of your browser window; The website address should start with "https"
- Donate to charities directly through their website.
- Sign on to CIBC Online Banking and set up account alerts to receive real-time fraud alerts for unusual activity on your accounts. Always keep your personal information up-to-date so we can contact you if needed.
Visit the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre for more information related to COVID-19 scams.
Fraudsters frequently target seniors to gain access to their savings accounts by posing as financial advisors with promises of high returns or preferential income tax treatment. In some cases, once they have access to your funds, they take the money and disappear. In other situations, you may receive falsified monthly statements. At that point, your initial investment is long gone.
- Be wary of unexpected offers that sound too good to be true.
- Do your research and check with reliable sources.
- Take your time to make decisions and don’t feel pressured to act. Be wary of offers that require you to take immediate action or risk losing out. While the promise of exceptional returns may be tempting, ask yourself if it makes sense.
Prepaid or gift card scams
Have you ever received a threatening call claiming that you have an outstanding balance with the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) which requires immediate payment in prepaid or gift cards? In this scenario, the fraudster poses as a government representative and uses aggressive language in an attempt to pressure you into taking immediate action. Beware—this is a scam!
- Verify requests from the government for payment by looking up the phone number. Don’t validate numbers provided by the fraudster or visible on your call display—they may be spoofed to appear legitimate.
- A government official won’t use aggressive language or demand payment by untraceable means.
Where to find help and report fraud
At CIBC, your security comes first. Visit CIBC.com to find out how we help protect you from fraud, and how you can help protect yourself. The Canadian Bankers Association (CBA) also offers a free fraud prevention seminar for seniors as part of the ‘Your Money – Seniors’ financial literacy seminar program. Learn more or request a seminar at https://cba.ca/about-your-money-seniors.
In Canada, you can report financial fraud and scams to the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre at 1-888-495-8501 or https://antifraudcentre-centreantifraude.ca/index-eng.htm. Remember, financial fraud isn’t your fault and you’re not helpless. Local, provincial and national police forces have a wealth of information and resources available on their websites.