Should you worry that your elderly parents may be targeted by fraudsters and scammers?
According to the Government of Canada official website, fraud is the number one crime against older Canadians.
The simple fact that seniors are home often and that they can be eager for social interaction makes them easier targets. Scams that target seniors can range from simple ruses to very sophisticated scams that can deceive even the most educated and worldly person.
Of increasing concern for Canadians in the past year have been CRA (Canada Revenue Agency) scams. The Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre reported that 688 people were swindled out of $2.7 million last year alone, with a significant number of these victims identified as elderly.
Fraudsters posing as CRA agents on the phone, text messaging and email, are aggressively demanding payment for back taxes owing. Victims are threatened with fines, jail time and worse if they fail to pay by wire transfer, pre-paid credit cards, gift cards or bitcoin.
Government agencies are aware of the rise in this type of financial fraud and have taken measures to properly educate the public on how to protect themselves. Among the educational initiatives is an official web page that lists tips on spotting CRA scams:
What the CRA will never do
• ask for information about your passport, health card, or driver’s license
• demand immediate payment by Interac e-transfer, bitcoin, prepaid credit cards or gift cards from retailers such as iTunes, Amazon, or others
• use aggressive language or threaten you with arrest or sending the police
• leave voicemails that are threatening or give personal or financial information
• give or ask for personal or financial information by email and ask you to click on a link
• email you a link asking you to fill in an online form with personal or financial details
• send you an email with a link to your refund
• uses text messages or instant messaging such as Facebook Messenger or WhatsApp to communicate with taxpayers under any circumstance. If a taxpayer receives text or instant messages claiming to be from the CRA, they are scams!
Other common scams that target seniors
Lottery scams – where a person is asked for some form of payment to access a prize
Email phishing – an email with a compelling message that tricks a person into giving up information such as bank account numbers, passwords, etc.
Grandchild in need scams– an urgent message where the fraudster poses as the grandchild who ultimately needs money urgently
Cell phone scams – threatening conversations, voicemail or text messages that get a person to give personal information or make a payment of some sort
Investment scams – the age-old pyramid scam is the most common
Charity scams – fraudsters posing as charities that simply pocket the money
Claim your refund – a commonly used email scam to get your banking information to “deposit” your refund.
Caller Id Spoofing – where fraudsters manipulate caller ID to pose as a government agency or bank in order to get personal information from you
How to Protect your elderly parents from fraud
A conversation with elderly parents living at home can go along way in preventing the devastating experience of being swindled out of their hard-earned money or valuables.
Reassure them that you are there to help and that you are their support or backup should they come across any situation they are unsure about. Discuss with them some common fraudster tactics and even rehearse with them how to protect themselves from potentially problematic scenarios.
You may also consider installing security features in their homes such as a magic eye for the front door, caller ID on the phone, security cameras, etc., being mindful to not overwhelm your parents with technology that they are not comfortable with.
Reminders and tips for your parents
• Screen phone calls carefully. The caller can leave a message if it is important.
• One of the easiest ways for scammers to engage with victims is by knocking at the door and posing as a utility worker or person who needs help. Your best protection is to NEVER answer the door unless you know who is there.
• If you are asked to sign a contract do not do so under pressure. Take the time to think about it and ask for an independent opinion.
• Check references for any handymen, caregivers or help around the house.
• Store all important documents and small valuables in a safe place. Give access only to people you trust.
• Shred old statements or any paperwork that has personal information regularly and take mail out of mailbox daily.
• Check out the Canada Revenue Agency website
• If you think you may have been victimized tell someone as soon as possible.
What to do if your loved one has been victimized?
In the event that you discover financial abuse or fraud, it is important to report the problem immediately. Contact your local police and alert the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre:
Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre: Toll-free at 1-888-495-8501 / Email: [email protected] / Website: Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre
Home Care Assistance Vancouver offers trusted home care for seniors
At Home Care Assistance Vancouver, the safety and security of our clients is our main concern, which is why all Home Care Assistance caregivers undergo a thorough background check, reference checks and a personality screening test. We are extremely selective and only one in every twenty-five applicants makes it through our hiring process.
To learn more about our services, visit Home Care Assistance Vancouver at www.homecareassistancevancouver.ca, servicing the Greater Vancouver area.
Thinking about in-home care for your loved one? Call us for your complimentary in-home consultation at (778)-279-3634