Reading news articles about elderly Canadians falling victim to devious telephone or email scams has unfortunately become all too common.
Each year, scammers cause Canadians to lose millions of dollars, and the most common demographic they target is older people. Seniors in poor health or social isolation are most at risk, especially three years after a life changing event like losing a spouse or moving to a new house.
Almost everyone knows at least one vulnerable person in their life. Even if it takes having unpleasant conversations, it is important to take safeguards to protect your loved ones from scam and fraud.
How do seniors fall for scams?
Typically, newsworthy stories are those in which the alleged scam seems obvious. For every person who sympathizes with the victim, there are two more who openly question how anyone could fall for it (often remarking that the same thing could never happen to them).
It’s common to assume that elderly victims of scams are those whose cognitive abilities have been impaired by conditions like Alzheimer’s disease. Although it occasionally holds true (studies indicates that the first type of judgement to deteriorate with dementia is financial judgement), it is not the only reason why elderly people fall for scams. Even if your loved one does not live with dementia, they are just as likely to become the target of a phone scam.
Scammers are experienced; it’s likely not their first day on the job. They know what to say to gain someone’s trust.
Scammers frequently approach elderly people politely, which appeals to elders who are lonely and want attention. Recent events have also seen con artists use hostility and fear to make their victims feel trapped. This tactic works when the target believes they have no one to turn to for help.
Helping your loved ones avoid phone scams
- Talk to your loved one before it becomes a problem. Approaching the issue before something bad happens to your loved one is the first step in protecting them. This might be challenging because nobody wants to appear to be a potential imposter. However, educating people about scam activity might enable your loved one to defend themself if they receive the call. Ask your loved one whether they have heard about a recent scam that has been reported in the press, and then bring up how the victim could have stopped the con artist in their tracks.
- Encourage them to lead active social lives. Seniors who are cut off from friends and family are particularly susceptible to scammers. Make an effort to ensure that there are others checking in if you are too busy or too far away to spend time with your loved one. You may sign them up for a senior organization, ask your neighbours to stop by, or hire a personal support worker to be their companion.
- Be aware of frauds in your region. Information regarding fraud in Canada is made public by the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre. Keep an eye out for local scam reports so you can determine whether con artists are preying on the elderly in your area.
- Convert their landline to a mobile phone. When it comes to phone scammers, landlines are targeted more frequently than cell phones. You can also add your loved one’s cell phone number to Canada’s National Do Not Call List so that they are aware of any bogus sales calls they receive.
- Keep an eye on their online financial behaviour. Observe what websites have been visited and determine whether anyone has entered their information or subscribed anyplace. Once they have accessed a banking portal, make sure they log out.
What to do if your loved one has been scammed on the phone?
This can be a challenging issue to address. Be prepared to explain why you think the phone call or email was fraudulent and approach the situation with sympathy rather than judgment.
Sometimes, an elderly person realizes they have been duped but is embarrassed to tell a family member. If you believe this to be the case, you might think about asking a dependable friend or family member to start the conversation.
Want to learn more?
Please reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org, or call us at 1-855-410-7971, and we will be happy to help you arrange care for a loved one.