by Joel Ceausu
Quebec’s financial watchdog is encouraging all Quebecers to remain vigilant about preventing exploitation of seniors.
The Autorité des marchés financiers (AMF) says the elderly are prime targets for financial fraud, and used last week’s World Elder Abuse Awareness Day to highlight its own resources aimed at tackling the crime.
“Anyone can be the victim of fraud. Unfortunately, seniors who are isolated are particularly vulnerable to scams,” said AMF president and CEO Louis Morisset. “We’re taking action on a number of fronts, including using cyber surveillance to identify illegal distributions and providing tools to help the elderly protect themselves against fraud.”
Financial exploitation of the elderly comes in many forms, from fraudulent and high risk investments to direct theft of money by persons in a position of trust and aggressive sales tactics. Seniors may also be counselled to open accounts that require multiple costly for withdrawals, or commit their holdings to fee-heavy long-term investments that are inappropriate for people at an advanced age.
The AMF collaborates with several organizations to prevent elder exploitation and has a financial education team available to speak to seniors’ groups and people who work with senior citizens to help them recognize scams and urge them to report abuse.
Often, the perpetrator is a relative, neighbour or acquaintance who recognizes and exploits a senior’s isolation. A more common extortion rip-off affecting seniors, particularly in the Montreal area, is dubbed the ‘Grandchild Scam,’ where someone purporting to be friends with their grandchild calls with alarming news about their grandchild, asking for money for bail, for car repairs, or to repay a debt to shady characters. Alarmed and concerned, many seniors will often agree to pay.
The AMF says seniors, indeed everyone, should discuss financial matters with people they trust and take the time to gather information before buying any financial product or service, or entrusting their savings to another individual.
If they feel they are being victimized by anyone, family or stranger, they should call police immediately.
To download an English 5-step guide to determine fraud risk: www.lautorite.qc.ca/files/pdf/