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Canadians Unaware of the Signs of Financial Elder Abuse

The image is meant to show an older adult experiencing elder financial abuse.
New CSA study reveals many Canadians are unaware of the signs of elder financial abuse.

A new survey by the Canadian Securities Administrators’ (CSA) found nearly 29 per cent of Canadians know a victim of financial elder abuse, while 42 per cent said they could not recognize the signs of financial abuse and only 47 per cent knew where to report cases of abuse.

Financial abuse is the most common form of elder abuse, and it typically occurs over an extended period of time. Financial abuse of older adults can include the use and/or control of the individual’s money or investments through undue pressure, illegal or unauthorized acts.

What We’re Doing To Raise Awareness About Elder Financial Abuse

The BC Securities Commission (BCSC) is participating in WEAAD with a digital campaign encouraging people to #RejectFinancialAbuse.

On June 10 2021, the BCSC organized a live digital panel to raise awareness of current elder financial abuse issues impacting British Columbians. The panel was hosted and moderated by Vancouver Island Regional Library, and we were joined by the following panelists:

  • Pamela McDonald, Director of Communications and Education, BCSC
  • Isobel Mackenzie, BC Seniors Advocate, Office of the Seniors Advocate
  • Sgt. Peri Mainwaring, District Response Sergeant, North Vancouver RCMP

If you missed the live panel, you can watch a recorded version by clicking here.

The campaign also includes a video addressing the impact that financial abuse and investment fraud can have on older adults in BC. The video was made in partnership with the Office of the Seniors Advocate in BC.

Other campaign elements include articles, an online newsletter issue, and social media posts using the hashtag #RejectFinancialAbuse throughout June, highlighting WEAAD and elder financial abuse.

Additional Key Findings From the CSA Survey

Other findings from the CSA survey include:

  • 81 per cent of Canadians recognize that when older adults are financially abused, it’s usually by someone close to them.
  • Among Canadians who have an older adult in their life:
  • 91 per cent face perceived barrier(s) that prevent them from discussing financial matters.
  • The most common barriers are the belief that their loved one has their finances under control (38 per cent) and the belief that it’s not their place to talk about finances (37 per cent). About one-third (30 per cent) say that finances don’t come up in conversation.
  • 61 per cent believe that the older adult(s) would open up if they were victim to financial abuse.
  • 73 per cent say that they know who manages the finances for the older adult.

How To Reject and Report Elder Financial Abuse

Canadians can take action and prevent financial abuse of older adults by:

  • Talking about their financial matters with them.
  • Learning to recognize and avoid investment scams. Visit the CSA website to find important information and helpful resources about fraud prevention.
  • Taking time to investigate every investment opportunity or sales pitch, as well as the person promoting the investment, before handing over money. If you’re unsure about an investment, consider seeking independent, third-party advice.
  • Reporting investment fraud to their provincial or territorial securities regulator. Reporting potential scams may help prevent other seniors from becoming victims of investment fraud.

The BCSC believes it’s important for everyone to know how to recognize, reject and report elder financial abuse.

In addition, the CSA has a number of investor tools and resources available on its website that are designed to help Canadians be informed investors. Investors can find the latest investor tips, news and developments by following the CSA on Twitter, on Facebook and LinkedIn.

The CSA, the council of the securities regulators of Canada’s provinces and territories, co- ordinates and harmonizes regulation for the Canadian capital markets.

Report a Concern

If you have any concerns about a person or company offering an investment opportunity, please contact BCSC Contact Centre at 604-899-6854 or 1-800-373-6393 or through e-mail at [email protected]. You can also file a complaint or submit a tip anonymously using the BCSC’s online complaint form.

InvestRight.org is the BC Securities Commission’s investor education website. Subscribe to receive email updates from BCSC InvestRight.

Survey Methodology Snapshot

On behalf of the CSA, Edelman conducted a four-question online survey between May 17-18, 2021, in collaboration with Angus Reid. Through Angus Reid’s panel, Edelman recruited a nationally representative sample of 1,500 Canadian adults aged 18+. The survey was offered in English and French. Quotas and weighting were used to ensure that the sample’s composition reflects that of the Canadian adult population according to the latest census parameters. The precision of Angus Reid Forum online polls is measured using a credibility interval. In this case, the poll is accurate to within +/- three percentage points, 19 times out of 20, had all Canadians been polled. The credibility interval will be wider among subsets of the population. All sample surveys and polls may be subject to other sources of error, including, but not limited to coverage error, and measurement error. Please note that for the purposes of reporting, “older adults” are defined as Canadians adults who are 65 years old or older.

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