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Scams Against Seniors

January 17th, 2023 | by admin admin | in Security Advice |    0   comments

senior_phone.jpgAccording to the Vancouver Police Department, seniors are hit hardest by criminals in two areas: purse snatching and fraud. Likely because they are vulnerable targets. Preventing purse snatching usually boils down to not carrying a purse, or at least not keeping credit cards, crucial ID, or large amounts of cash in your purse. Preventing con artists from scamming seniors, however, takes a lot of education.

Common Scams Against the Elderly

1. Pigeon Drop. Congratulations! You’ve won a large prize of cash or valuables. All you have to do is send a small “good faith” amount of money to a certain location before you can claim your prize.

2. Bank Examiner. The bank needs your help to catch a crooked employee. You need to withdraw some money and send it to a certain address so they can examine the serial numbers.

3. Funeral Chasers. Your loved one has just died. Suddenly, you receive a shipment. A company claims your friend or family member ordered the goods before dying, and demands payment.

4. Pyramid Scheme. You invest money into a company, on the promise that you will make a lot more money if you convince others to join. Eventually, the pyramid collapses and only the now-missing person at the top has money

5. Free Inspection. A door-to-door repair person offers you a free inspection and, of course, it turns out you need expensive repairs done immediately. Or, a contractor just happens to be doing a job nearby and offers to sell you surplus materials cheap.

6. Fake Charities. Someone calls you at home, knocks on your door, or approaches you on the street to ask for donations to a non-existent or falsely represented charity.

7. Identity Theft. Someone collects your personal information by phone, email, web site, stolen mail, or other scheme and uses your social insurance, health, credit or bank card numbers to borrow money or buy items in your name.

8. Grandparent Scam. You receive a call or email from someone claiming to be your grandchild or other loved one. He is travelling and is in trouble. He has been arrested or robbed. He needs cash desperately and quickly. You wire him the cash.

9. Dementia Test. You receive a telemarketing or other common call and have a friendly chat. The person calls back the next day to test whether you remember the earlier call. If you do not, the con artist will call again claiming you owe a large amount of money, which must be paid immediately, even if you cannot recall the debt.

While it is impossible to list all the scams out there, the RCMP and Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre offer extensive lists of common fraud schemes.

Prevention Tips

To avoid being a victim of fraud, learn to recognize the patterns.

1. Never give out personal information.

2. Don’t buy anything or make a donation on impulse. Do your research and consult someone you know and trust.

3. Don’t respond to phone calls or emails from strangers. “I’m sorry, my blanket policy is to never accept solicitations,” is an effective response on the phone or at the door. Or, simply hang up or close the door.

4. If it sounds too good to be true, it is.

If you have been a victim of fraud, report it to the police and to the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre to help prevent harm to others.

Financial Abuse

Unlike the fraud schemes described above, financial abuse most frequently originates with close friends and family, or other caregivers. These loved ones put pressure on you to buy things, provide food and shelter, give away your money, property or belongings, sign legal documents you don’t understand, make or change your will or power of attorney, sell or move out of your home—when you don’t want to.

If you’re feeling pressured, ask your bank or credit union or your doctor for community resources. You may also contact the police.


Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre. Fraud Types.

Government of Canada. What every older Canadian should know about: financial abuse.

Government of Canada. What every older Canadian should know about: frauds and scams.

Royal Canadian Mounted Police. Scams and Fraud.

Vancouver Police Department. Safety Tips for Seniors.

Note: This blog discusses general safety and security topics. It is not intended to provide comprehensive advice or guidance. In all matters of personal safety and security, we encourage readers to research topics in depth and consult a security professional about specific concerns.

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