Financial Abuse and Other Common Scams

Financial abuse can take many forms. It’s important to know the signs.

Primary Types of Financial Abuse:

Monetary: Intended to separate you from your money, the most common form is to pressure you to provide a friend or family member an early bequest.

Property: Involving the inappropriate use of your property for the benefit of the perpetrator—often pressuring you to sell or transfer an asset.

Legal: Manipulating legal documents to benefit someone other than yourself.

Common red flags to watch out for:

New friends or romantic interests:
Perpetrators aren’t always strangers, and are often family members, trusted service providers, neighbors, or friends. Anyone new to your social life who immediately tries to get involved in financial matters (meetings with lawyers, financial advisors, etc.) may have malicious intent. It’s important for loved ones to determine who that person is and why he or she may be involved.

Changes in spending patterns:
Changes in the way a senior typically spends, such as beginning to shop online, or a marked decrease in typical shopping habits, may warrant cause for concern. Social isolation, where a senior may be pressured to spend less time with their usual social circle, is another indicator of potential abuse.

Prevention tips:

  • Seek independent legal advice before signing any documents, especially those involving your home or other property.

  • Set up features like pre-authorized debit for bills, and auto-deposit for government and pension cheques into your bank accounts.

  • Keep financial, legal, and personal information in a safe place. Never give anyone else your password or PINs.

  • If lending money, consider how to best document proof of whom you loaned it to, how much was loaned, and any terms and conditions.

  • You are entitled to one free report each year from the national credit bureaus, Equifax and Trans Union – allowing you to monitor whether anyone has obtained financial products falsely under your name.

  • Keep in touch with a variety of friends and family to avoid becoming isolated.

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