June 5th, 2017

Seniors and financial fraud: Don’t be a victim

Across several provinces and territories in Canada, June is designated as Seniors’ Month. As more and more baby boomers mature, this demographic represents a rapidly growing segment of the population. Many seniors continue to lead healthy and active lives. Like anyone, seniors can become vulnerable to undue influence or coercion especially when the effects of old age, illness or mental incapacity start to impair their judgement.

As a result, Canadian securities regulators are focused on educating the public about issues that impact seniors, such as investment fraud and elder abuse. On the British Columbia Securities Commission InvestRight website, it explains how fraudsters target seniors and prey on their vulnerabilities. These individuals typically befriend lonely seniors in order to gain their trust. Seniors are particularly susceptible to schemes that promise to improve the sustainability of their retirement income or to provide an inheritance for their heirs.

InvestRight lists these common investment scams:

  • Cold calls and email promotions
  • Fraud among friends and family
  • Online investment promotions
  • Investment seminars
  • Investment ads

Most investment scams make claims that are too good to be true. While seniors may be most vulnerable, anyone can be a target. The Ontario Securities Commission’s GetSmarterAboutMoney.ca website identifies 4 signs of investment fraud that you should watch out for.

  1. You can make a lot of money with little or no risk
  2. You get a hot tip or insider information
  3. You feel pressured to buy
  4. They’re not registered to sell investments

For this last point, the regulators always recommend you check to see that the person promoting the investment is registered with the appropriate securities commission(s).

Take action to protect yourself and your loved ones

If you suspect that you or someone you know is the victim of fraud, report the suspicious activity immediately to your provincial securities commission.

The financial services industry is committed to promoting the financial health of investors, especially seniors. Throughout the month of June, The Investment Funds Institute of Canada (IFIC) will be posting new content daily to its Twitter account directed at assisting seniors with their financial decision making. You can follow IFIC here.