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My 100% Advice bank • April 26, 2021
modified on April 27, 2021

Financial Fraud Against Seniors

Its various forms and how to protect yourself.

Financial fraud is a serious and growing problem, especially among seniors. But why these people in particular? Seniors are a potential target for fraudsters because of the wealth they have accumulated throughout their lives, their vulnerability and isolation, as well as the fact that they are more inclined to give their trust.

What is financial fraud?

It’s a dishonest and illegal method of cheating a person for financial gain and to steal their money. Financial fraud against seniors can take many forms. Here are some examples:

  • Phishing: fake emails or text messages that look like real ones sent by legitimate companies or organizations, whose purpose is to extract personal information, such as a Social Insurance Number (SIN) or credit card numbers. These types of emails or text messages could announce a lottery win, a tax refund, or even a hacked bank account.
  • Telephone solicitation: a call from a real person or an automated message from a fraudster soliciting the victim to complete a transaction remotely with a fake prize, such as a trip or a car.
  • Credit or debit card fraud: the use of your credit or debit card number by a fraudster to make unauthorized withdrawals or purchases.
  • Affinity fraud: a fraudster targets a group of people, such as a seniors’ residence or a religious or ethnic community to build a relationship with its members. One of the ways the fraudster does this is by promising the victims a quick payoff by investing their savings in investments that will provide very high returns. Unfortunately, the seniors may trust the fraudster, because they know and trust that person.
  • “Relative in distress” fraud: the fraudster poses as a relative and may even assume the identity of one of the senior’s acquaintances in order to request money. The fraudster will create a sense of urgency by claiming to be in a difficult situation, so that the victim will send money quickly. This can be done through a text message or social network. Remember that some social networks give access to member information, such as their photos, first and last names, city, and even interests, which makes things easier for fraudsters.
Some tips to avoid financial fraud
  • Protect your personal and financial information. Never reveal your passwords, access codes, or answers to secret questions.
  • Don’t leave your debit or credit card out of sight when making a purchase in a store. Report stolen or lost credit or debit cards to your financial institution immediately.
  • Check your bank statements every month to ensure that no suspicious purchases or withdrawals have been made.
  • Avoid using public Wi-Fi if you need to make financial transactions or purchases online and install anti-virus software on your computer.
  • Memorize your various passwords, personal identification numbers (PINs), and access codes and avoid writing them down on a piece of paper that a fraudster could find. If you are worried about forgetting your passwords, you can opt for a secure password manager to store them digitally in one place.
  • Before making an investment, always verify the legitimacy and reliability of the person who is presenting himself or herself to you as a financial advisor. For example, if you’re in Quebec, you can check if the financial advisor is registered with the Autorité des marchés financiers (AMF) before investing.
  • Never send money before checking the identity of the person contacting you.
  • Be aware of the various techniques used by fraudsters to better prepare and protect yourself.

Anyone can be a victim of financial fraud; the important thing is to remain vigilant and report any fraud or attempted fraud immediately. If you have ever been a victim of financial fraud, don’t hesitate to share your experience with your family, friends, and neighbours, so that they don't fall victim to the same situation.

Code of Conduct for the Delivery of Banking Services to Seniors

Laurentian Bank of Canada has adopted the Code of Conduct for the Delivery of Banking Services to Seniors, introduced in July 2019. As part of this Code, we have designated a Seniors’ Champion, who is responsible for overseeing the Code’s implementation, as well as promoting and raising awareness of matters affecting seniors. We have also implemented a number of measures to help protect seniors from financial abuse, fraud and scams.

Learn more about our senior banking services.

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