Older adults are often targeted for fraud because they seem less savvy to scams, are perhaps more vulnerable, and are generally more polite. Elder fraud is thought to be one of the most under-reported crimes, which is probably due to the embarrassment that comes with reporting.
March is Fraud Prevention Month in Canada and time to consider ways we can prevent ourselves and our loved ones from becoming easy victims.
A look in the news quickly turns up a handful of scams and frauds with elderly as the victims. Consider the Toronto elderly woman who told the Toronto Star how she was a victim of fraud at the hands of a personally-hired caregiver who conned her employer into handing over her Markham estate (article). Or, the still common “grandson” scam where a caller pretends to be a grandson in need, fishing information out of the unsuspecting, concerned grandparent, and ultimately robbing them of money, assets and dignity.
Fraud robs people of more than their money, it steals their sense of security and is emotionally damaging. It is common for elderly victims of fraud to become more reclusive, less trusting even with close family members, and less likely to open up and share how they’re feeling.
It’s good to talk about what constitutes fraud to your parents and together create a fraud prevention plan. Having a reliable, insured and bonded caregiver from a reputable organization like Premier Homecare Services is an important consideration in your fraud prevention plan.
Your Fraud Prevention Plan can include:
- Don’t sign any documents without carefully reviewing them.
- Hire bonded and insured caregivers from reputable companies such as Premier Homecare Services, not through private arrangements.
- Do banking in person and set up automatic payments, try to minimize over the phone or internet banking.
- Don’t speak at length with unfamiliar people.
- Shred all bills, notices and personal mail before throwing away.
- Recognize predatory schemes and lending practices.
- Reach out for help before lending, investing or spending considerable amounts of money.
- Don’t put yourself on the “sucker list” by refusing to sign up for free stuff, enter sweepstakes or register for contests.
Talk to a trusted lawyer or financial professional for more advice.
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