How to protect seniors against fraud and financial abuse

seniorfraudThe federal government is frequently reminding Canadians to be on guard against offers that seem too good to be true. Seniors, in particular, are often targeted by fraudsters. According to the Government of Canada, financial abuse of seniors is the most common form of elder abuse in Canada. Those who are isolated are even more at risk.

While powers of attorney and joint bank accounts can help seniors and those who care for them manage and protect their finances, these tools can be abused by people whom seniors have put in positions of trust.

In addition, thieves regularly target seniors with telephone and email scams and fraudulent telemarketing.

One of the easiest ways for all of us to find signs of identity theft and fraud is to order a credit report every year from both of Canada’s credit reporting agencies, Equifax and TransUnion. A credit report will show you when someone has opened credit cards and other loans in your name, leaving you responsible to pay them back, with interest.

Seniors can also use direct deposit for pensions and other regular payments, and preauthorized payments for regular bills to reduce the number of banking transactions they need to ask someone else to carry out for them.

Here are some additional tips that all Canadians should follow to prevent fraud and financial abuse:

• Keep your passwords and personal identification number (PIN) to yourself—avoid writing them down.

• If you must write this personal information down, keep it in a secure place, such as a safe or a hiding place. Also try not carry your PINs together with your cards while you are in public. If you must carry your PIN with you, keep it in a pocket or other place separate apart from your cards. That way, if your card is stolen, your PIN won’t be with it.

• Be wary of calls or emails asking for personal information. Feel free to hang up on such callers.

• If a caller says they are from your bank, or another financial institution, say you will call back using the number you have on file to verify what the caller is saying.

• Only provide personal information when it is you who has initiated the call to a reputable business.

• For major decisions, get your own legal advice before signing any documents.

• If you think someone may have defrauded you, contact the police, your bank, or your lawyer.

You can also find more tips on how to prevent online fraud and financial abuse at  – NC

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