World Elder Abuse Awareness Day occurs every June 15, and June 2 to June 8 is Seniors’ Week in BC. In order to bring attention to the issue of financial abuse of seniors, we are running a series of blog posts this month.
In this post, I will talk about how to identify and report elder financial abuse and investment fraud.
Identifying financial abuse or investment fraud
Financial abuse happens when someone takes what belongs to you – your property, assets, or money – without permission. Forcing you to sign away your legal rights, or invest your money in ways you do not agree with can also be financial abuse.
It is okay to talk to friends and family about money or your financial situation. You may need their help making decisions or paying bills. However, you should be the one initiating the conversation and asking for help.
Be leery of caregivers or new acquaintances that discuss investments or take a keen interest in your financial affairs. Fraud artists try to gain your trust in order to gain access to your money.
Report suspicious activity
If a person is pressuring you for financial information, pushing you to sign over assets, or encouraging you to sign a Power of Attorney or Will, you should report it. You should also tell someone if you suspect or know that a person is taking your money, or using it for their own benefit.
Do not approach the person you want to report. It is best to start the conversation with someone you feel can help – a friend, another relative you trust, or an independent party.
When discussing the situation, be calm and confident. Describe the situation, document the conversations, and keep notes, if possible. It will help you if you need to speak to the authorities about illegal activity.
How do you get help?
If you do not feel comfortable talking to family or friends, there are a number of places you can go for help.
BC Securities CommissionCall us, if you suspect suspicious investment activity, or you want to file a complaint. You can reach us at 1-800-373-6393, [email protected], or through the “Report to Us” section on the website.
RCMP or your local city policeIf you believe the abuse is a criminal matter, call your local city police or the RCMP. In the case of an emergency, call 911 immediately.
Seniors Abuse & Information Line (SAIL)SAIL is a safe place for older adults to talk to receive information about elder abuse, or discuss possible abuse or mistreatment by others. There are two SAIL numbers available to BC residents: 604-437-1940 or 1-866-437-1940 (toll free).
VictimLink BCCall 1-800-563-0808 to get information and referral services. It is available across BC and the Yukon 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
This post concludes our series. If you have any thoughts about these blog posts, please leave a comment below.