A female caregiver comforts a senior. (Yuri Arcurs Productions/Special to Black Press Media)

Open dialogue could prevent financial abuse of seniors

COVID brings with it a sense of isolation that could make elders more vulnerable than ever to fraud

With World Elder Abuse Awareness Day around the corner on Monday (June 15), the corporate security team at Envision Financial shared some information about how to protect aging loved ones from financial abuse.

According to the Canadian Department of Justice, approximately 10 per cent of Canadian seniors are victims of consumer fraud each year.

Although these fraudsters are sometimes strangers, sadly it quite often is someone in their trusted circle such as a family member, friend, neighbour, or caretaker, said Kevin Haarhoff, an investigator with the corporate security team at Envision Financial, a division of First West Credit Union.

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“It’s unfortunate that some seniors are targeted as a result of their increased vulnerability; they may have declining physical or mental health and are likely self-isolating as a result of COVID-19,” Haarhoff said, who offered some tips to protect the seniors in our life.

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• Be involved

During these unprecedented times, when visits with loved ones are far and few between – or not permitted at all due to social distancing protocols – it can become increasingly easy for seniors to become even more isolated.

Not only can this take an emotional toll, but it also increases their vulnerability to fraud by creating an opportunity for fraudsters to build a trusting relationship with their victim for financial gain.

“Being an active participant in the lives of loved ones will help you detect signs of abuse early,” said Haarhoff.

“It is important to be aware of who they interact with on a regular basis in case the relationship is having a negative impact. Ask questions if they are acting unusual and trust your instincts if you feel that something is not right.”

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• Discuss often

Reminding the older adults in your life of the importance of not giving out personal or financial information to people you don’t know or over the phone is an important first step.

However, by simply opening the financial and fraud prevention dialogue, you build rapport and make it more likely your loved one will reach out to you if there is ever a concern that needs to be addressed.

“Having discussions about fraud prevention is an important subject to broach,” said Haarhoff.

“Having these conversations early and often could provide the older adults in your life the knowledge they need to identify a potential fraud or scam if they are ever faced with one.”

Should you feel someone in your life is being abused or mistreated, contact Seniors First BC via the Seniors Abuse and Information Line (SAIL) tollfree at: 1-866-437-1940.

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roxanne.hooper@langleyadvancetimes.com

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