Preventing elder financial abuse and investment fraud
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 focus on some findings from our 2012 investor research and give some suggestions on how to avoid investment fraud and elder abuse.
In March 2012, we released our first National Investment Fraud Vulnerability Report, which found that 23% of British Columbians 50+ believe they were victims of investment fraud.
There are behaviours, characteristics, and attitudes identified in the survey that help to explain why people in this age group are vulnerable to investment fraud. Exposure to risky sales situations and poor advice from friends and family are two things that get people into trouble. We see this in many investment frauds and other types of economic crime.
Be cautious about seminars
Investment seminars can open the door to investment fraud and financial abuse.
- If you do attend an investment or personal finance seminar, do not fall for pressure techniques. Additionally, avoid setting up future meetings at your home. Meeting you alone at home allows the fraudster to isolate and pressure you.
- If you have difficulty saying “no”, stay away from seminars or places where people promote investments. This is especially true if the seminar offers a free lunch or prizes for attending. There is no such thing as a “free” lunch.
Act independently, if possible
There is nothing wrong with getting help from family or friends, but you should make sure they are not able to control your financial affairs without your knowledge and approval.
- Seeing to your own financial matters and using independent professionals will help you avoid being taken advantage of by family members or care workers.
- Be sure you understand every document you sign and investment you make. Family, friends and care workers sometimes use their position of trust to steal money or take control of a person’s financial affairs.
- Say “no” if someone pressures you for money – even family. Get your lawyer, accountant, and/or financial advisor involved in investments or personal loans.
Avoid unsolicited calls or e-mails
Fraudsters use aggressive marketing techniques (cold calls, email spam, door-to-door sales, and online offers) to target older Canadians.
- When it comes to unsolicited calls or e-mails, it is best not to pick up the phone or respond back. If you pick up or answer “not interested”, you have shown the scam artist that there is a live body who they can try and reach.
In my next post, I will talk about a new information kit that focuses on preventing elder abuse.