While seniors aren’t the only target fraudsters prey on, there are always people looking to separate the elderly from their money.
Bev Hanes, Central Alberta Council on Aging treasurer, spoke to a packed dining hall at the Golden Circle Senior Resource Centre on Tuesday about being aware of seniors fraud and how to stay safe.
“Always step back and think and ask questions,” said Hanes. “Ask why and put them on the spot. You have to think of your personal information as something you have to protect.”
She also handed out a booklet, A Senior’s Guide to Fraud Prevention, produced by the Alberta Council on Aging.
The booklet outlines what seniors can do if they are threatened by power of attorney abuse, telemarketing scams, identity theft and Internet scams.
“If you’re defrauded money, as a senior, you don’t have time to recoup it,” said Hanes, adding there were very few people who attended the presentation and are still working.
Hanes mentioned power of attorney as an avenue of fraud that would be very specific to seniors.
“There are sometimes a lot of abuses that are hard to deal with,” said Hanes. “It’s family too and if the someone didn’t want to press charges, you don’t often do with family.”
But Hanes made it clear that seniors are not the only targets of fraudsters.
She said there are misconceptions about seniors being victimized because they aren’t telemarketer savvy, aren’t up on society’s latest trends, aren’t as social as they used to be, are isolated without a wide circle of friends and suffer from mental deterioration.
Instead, anyone can fall victim to someone looking to defraud someone of their money.
“Everybody is subject to it, but seniors maybe have the time — you’re at home and the telemarketers can catch you,” said Hanes.
Hanes said her mother, years ago, was victimized by fraud. Some outfit from Quebec phoned her and sold her some items.
“She sent them so much money and when my sister found out about it, she phoned me at work and we had to go talk to Mom,” said Hanes.
“We had the police come talk to her and tell her ‘These people are not who you think they are.’ They phoned again and told her it was the vice-president. So she sent more money.
“Maybe we’re more trusting.”