Current pandemic measures have dramatically changed how we interact with our loved ones. While physical distancing affects everyone, seniors are experiencing increased isolation and loneliness as friends and family are unable to visit in person.
Unfortunately, fraudsters see this as a prime opportunity to become a “trusted” friend in a senior’s life so they can take advantage of them or their retirement nest egg through fraudulent scams or unsuitable investments. Scammers use a variety of methods to target seniors, including emails, mail, phone calls and even in-home visits.
The danger of financial abuse is real. In a 2020 study conducted by the Alberta Securities Commission one third of Albertans 55-plus believe they’ve been approached with a potentially fraudulent investment scam through a co-worker, family member, friend or even a member from a club, group or organization they belong to.
Fraudsters use a variety of tactics to defraud seniors, including:
- Leveraging their trust and politeness to establish friendships quickly.
- Instilling fear that they will run out of money in retirement and burden their family.
- Exploiting current events like the pandemic to offer fake investments in cures and new technologies.
- Using high-pressure sales tactics.
- Promising high returns with little or no risk and exclusive opportunities.
- Unsolicited investment opportunities and friend requests through Facebook and social media.
How can you help protect seniors in your life?
You can help protect your elderly relatives from investment fraud with open communication about their daily lives and financial decisions. Calling them routinely can help reduce social isolation and disrupt any suspicious activity that might be happening. If you believe a senior might be at risk, be proactive and do the following:
- Bring up the topic of investment fraud. Share the dangers of investment fraud during this time and send them information specifically created for seniors.
- Listen and be engaged. Be open to discussing issues or topics regarding their finances and help them check the registration and history of any individual or firm offering them an investment opportunity.
- Pay attention to their social circles. Have they been mentioning a new friend or someone who has started providing them advice, financial or otherwise? Ask questions respectfully and monitor any ongoing suspicious activities.
If you suspect you or a senior in your life may be involved in a potentially fraudulent investment scheme find help and more information at checkfirst.ca.