Last month was Fraud Prevention Month in Canada. It’s important to be alert, especially with scams on the rise. According to reports to the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre, $379 million was lost to scams and fraud in 2021, an increase of 130% compared to 2020. In fact, the reality is likely even worse. National statistics show that only about 30 per cent of people who are scammed actually report it to police.
Scams vary in nature, but deception by email, text and phone call is very common. Unfortunately, older Canadians are often especially targeted. Recently the Nova Scotia RCMP, for example, warned residents of a scam that targets grandparents. The scammer pretends to be a lawyer, claiming their grandchild was arrested and money is needed for their release. In one instance, a victim sent $9,000 by mail to the fraudster.
Bill VanGorder, Chief Policy Officer of CARP notes that what makes seniors more vulnerable is that they often have more time to spend time talking to callers, and are more likely to listen, especially considering the isolation many felt in the past two years.
It’s also important to be wary when seeking services. One couple in Ontario hired a moving company that advertised specifically for seniors. Despite having read positive reviews online, the couples’ experience was abysmal. The cost of moving greatly exceeded the initial estimate provided, and when the couple protested, the company threatened to call the police and sell the movers’ goods. Ultimately the couple paid the inflated costs, but the returned goods were banged up, dirty and broken.
CARP advocates for freedom from ageism and financial security. Scammers who prey on older Canadians threaten both of these priorities. Keep tabs on current frauds and learn more about how to protect yourself or report scammers through the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre.