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.