News Release

ASC encourages greater financial awareness during Seniors Month

Jun 03, 2020

One-third of Albertans 55+ believe they have been approached with a potential fraud through someone they know

CALGARY - June 3, 2020 – The Alberta Securities Commission (ASC) has launched a month-long senior outreach campaign across Alberta in recognition of Seniors Month (June) and World Elder Abuse Day (June 15, 2020) to highlight the importance of financial knowledge for seniors.

According to a recently conducted study of investors in Alberta, specifically those 55 years of age and older, one third think they’ve been approached with a potentially fraudulent investment scam through someone they know, such as a friend, neighbor, co-worker, family member or someone from a club, group or organization they belong to. Phone calls from strangers (22 per cent) or email spam (23 per cent) are other ways that Albertans 55+ believe they have been approached with a fraudulent investment.

“These findings are concerning considering the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on Albertans, especially our seniors who are isolated or cut off from support groups,” said Hilary McMeekin, Director, Communications and Investor Education, Alberta Securities Commission. “Scam artists exploit the fear, uncertainty and vulnerability that comes from volatility in the markets, the potential for lost retirement savings and social isolation. We are focused on providing seniors, their families and friends with the tools to protect themselves and build their knowledge around investments.”

Further study data on financial abuse and fraud, as it pertains to Albertans aged 55+, showed that:

  • Over 70 per cent feel confident in protecting themselves from investment fraud, however more than one in five acknowledge they have signed investment documents without fully understanding what they mean.
  • Many struggle with identifying the red flags of investment fraud:
    • Only one in eight (12 per cent) were aware that the introduction to an investment through a personal connection could be a concern.
    • Less than one in five (18 per cent) were able to specifically identify that a tax-free investment is a potential red flag.
  • One in eight (12 per cent) do not have any savings or investments set aside for the future.

The purpose of this campaign is to help improve seniors’ financial knowledge, empower them to make wise investment decisions and be aware of the signs and symptoms of financial abuse and fraud, including COVID-19-related scams. The campaign encourages caregivers, friends and family members to connect with the seniors in their lives to ensure they are safe – physically, mentally and financially. Friends and family members need to talk to seniors about their finances, watch for the signs of elder abuse and take advantage of the resources on the revised CheckFirst.ca/seniors website to strengthen their investor knowledge.

CheckFirst.ca/seniors includes the steps to approaching any investment, how to recognize the signs of investment fraud, various educational resources and an online “How Safe is Your Nest Egg?” quiz. Albertans 55 years of age and older are encouraged to take the quiz before Tuesday, June 30, 2020 at 12:00 a.m. to be entered to win a $50 Visa gift card. Albertans without internet access can call 1-877-355-4488 to request printed copies of seniors’ materials.

If you suspect you, or a senior in your life, may be involved in a potentially fraudulent investment scheme, contact the ASC at 1-877-355-4488 or inquiries@asc.ca.

The ASC is the regulatory agency responsible for administering the province's securities laws. It is entrusted with fostering a fair and efficient capital market in Alberta and with protecting investors. As a member of the Canadian Securities Administrators, the ASC works to improve, coordinate and harmonize the regulation of Canada's capital markets.

 

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For further information, please contact:

For Media Inquiries:

For Investor Inquiries:

James MacTavish
Senior Advisor, Investor Education
403-483-2374

ASC Public Inquiries
Toll Free: 1-877-355-4488