June 15, 2021

June 15 is World Elder Abuse Awareness Day

The Financial and Consumer Affairs Authority of Saskatchewan (FCAA) is reminding seniors and their family members, friends and caregivers, about the warning signs of financial scams and frauds on World Elder Abuse Awareness Day (WEAAD), June 15, 2021.

"Senior financial abuse is one of the most common forms of senior abuse in Canada," FCAA Securities Division Executive Director Dean Murrison said.  "Seniors need to be aware of common red flags, and who to trust and involve in financial decisions.  It is often difficult for family, friends, and caretakers to recognize when a senior is being financially abused."

While every demographic is susceptible to fraud, seniors are particularly vulnerable to financial exploitation by fraudsters or occasionally unethical family members.  These reasons can include: 

  • Social isolation makes seniors more vulnerable;
  • People generally grow more trusting as they age; and
  • Seniors often have financial savings. 

Here are some red flags and preventative tips for seniors so they can protect themselves from exploitation:

  • If you receive "prize offers" without engaging or enrolling with the business offering the prize, do not reply to them.
  • If someone emails, texts, or calls asking for personal or banking information, do not provide the information.
  • If someone randomly sends you a cheque, asks you to deposit it and then wire a specific amount of money to an address, do not cash the cheque. 
  • If you receive an email with an attachment from people you do not know, do not open or download the attachments.
  • Be cautious of someone offering to help you with your financial decisions, especially if they contacted you unexpectedly. 

Frauds targeting seniors can take many forms.  Some of the most common scams to look out for include:

  • Romance scam: Fraudsters can use social media and online dating websites to befriend seniors online using fake identities.  Once the fraudsters have established a relationship, they will start to ask for money, often for an emergency expense like a sick relative. 
  • Prize scam: A fraudster will contact a senior and claim they have won a large prize, and ask for a payment to cover the taxes or legal fees.  Watch out for anyone asking you to pay them to receive a prize. 
  • Emergency/grandparent scam: A fraudster will contact a senior claiming to be a relative stuck in some sort of emergency, such as an overseas hospital stay. 
  • Investment opportunities: A fraudster will pitch a too good to be true investment opportunity, often using the lure of increased retirement income.  These frauds will use a variety of ways to contact the senior, including websites, promoting seminars, cold calling, or an unethical family member pressuring the senior to invest. 

If a senior has faced financial exploitation or if fraud has occurred, contact local police, the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre and the Securities Division of the FCAA at 306-787-5936 or [email protected].

For more information about senior financial abuse and tips for family members and caregivers visit https://fcaa.gov.sk.ca/financial-literacy/seniors/senior-financial-abuse.