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Preventing Fraud and Financial Abuse

The most common crimes committed against seniors in Canada are fraud and financial abuse. Sadly, these crimes are often committed by someone you know, like a doctor, caregiver, financial advisor, neighbour or family member.

Common Forms of Fraud and Financial Abuse

Learn to recognize the ways that someone may try to take advantage of you:

  • Forging your signature on cheques or financial documents.
  • Using your debit or credit card to make withdrawals or purchases without your permission.
  • Stealing from your bank account using your identity or personal information.
  • Asking you to give, donate or invest money under false pretences.
  • Requesting personal information or money through dishonest or impersonated e-mails, websites or phone calls.
  • Moving into your home without being invited or pressuring you to provide food and shelter to someone without payment.
  • Exploiting a Power of Attorney or legal guardianship.
  • Coercing you to make changes to your will.
  • Convincing you to sign documents you haven’t read or don’t fully understand.
  • Pressuring you to refinance your home, sell your home for less than it is worth or co-sign for someone else’s mortgage.
  • Assuming your identity to steal the title to your home, sell your house or take out a second mortgage.
  • Promising to loan or give you money so you can apply for a mortgage you don’t qualify for.
  • Bullying you to use your good credit to apply for a mortgage for someone with bad credit.

Protect Yourself from Fraud

Reduce your risk of being targeted by following these security measures:

  • Store credit cards and personal and financial information in a safe and secure place. Only share this information with people you trust.
  • Choose PIN numbers and account passwords that are difficult to guess. Keep these private. 
  • Regularly monitor your bank accounts and statements for unusual charges or other suspicious activity.
  • Shred all financial statements, bills and other important documents before recycling them.
  • Don’t click on web links, open email attachments or respond to emails from people you don’t know.
  • Be wary of strange or unusual emails from friends or family as their accounts may have been compromised.
  • Avoid sending money to anyone, even a friend or family member, unless you can confirm their identity and why the money is needed.
  • Read all legal documents carefully and ensure you understand them before signing them. Pay special attention to your will or Power of Attorney.
  • Report any items that go missing from your home, especially ones that might be valuable.
  • Seek independent legal advice before signing papers related to the title to your home, your mortgage or anyone else’s mortgage.
  • Never misrepresent your finances or accept money from anyone in order to apply for a mortgage.
  • Check at least 3 references before hiring someone to work on your home or for personal or financial services.
  • Stay in regular contact with family, friends and others you trust to lower the risk of isolation.

If You are a Victim of Fraud

There is no need to feel embarrassed if you suspect you’ve been the target of fraud. Take the following steps as soon as possible:

  • Write down everything you remember about the situation, including names, dates, and all communications.
  • Tell a friend, family member or someone else you trust.
  • File a report with your local police department.
  • Contact the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre.
  • Notify your bank or credit union.

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