Seniors are living longer, healthier lives (“70 is the new 60!”) and they have spent a lifetime accumulating investments and assets. Despite this, the natural aging process has the potential to affect a person’s ability to remember and make important decisions, including those related to their finances. Scam artists see this as a great opportunity, to prey on the perceived vulnerability of seniors.
The ASC wants to prevent that from happening, by helping seniors learn ways to avoid becoming a victim of fraud and financial abuse. Below are some tips on how to protect those you care about, or your own retirement savings.
Don’t judge a book by its cover – Successful scam artists look and sound professional, including their professional wardrobe, offices, and websites. They are experts at making the flimsiest deal sound safe. Remember that appearances can be deceiving and have no bearing on the soundness of an investment opportunity.
Don’t be a victim of your manners – Many people born in the 1930s, 40s and 50s were raised to be polite and trusting. Scam artists will try to exploit your good manners by pressuring you to invest in a “too good to be true” opportunity. Don’t forget – it’s your money and it’s not impolite to start by saying NO to something you are unsure about.
Check out strangers touting strange deals – Trusting a stranger with your money is a mistake that can be made by anyone at any age. Even if you’re one of those people who remembers a time when a handshake and a good word used to mean something, don’t just rely on a handshake when it comes to your finances. Be sure to do your own research on the person or company offering you the investment. An important free and easy first step is to check registration.
Don’t let embarrassment or fear keep you from speaking up – Scam artists know that seniors may not report an incidence of investment fraud because of embarrassment or fear of losing financial independence. Making a report to your local police or the ASC is the best thing you can do to protect others from becoming victims.
Monitor your investments and ask questions – Be sure to read financial statements when you receive them; don’t let unopened mail or e-mails concerning your account activity pile up. Watch out for signs of unauthorized trading and if you are unsure about any account activity, be sure to ask questions.
Looking for more information? Check out our seniors resources at Checkfirst.ca. And be sure to take our quiz (open until June 30) for a chance to win great prizes.
Alberta Elder Abuse Awareness Network