An elderly woman from Port Perry was recently scammed out of a large sum of cash by a man posing as a bank employee.
The elderly population in Canada has the highest risk of being scammed, so as you get older, it is important to be careful with who you trust with your personal information and savings.
Elderly people are more susceptible to telemarketing/phone scams because they make twice as many purchases over the phone than the average person. There are several different types of scams that can be done over the phone but the most common ones are referred to as the pigeon drop, the fake accident ploy, and charity scams.
The pigeon drop is when a con artist tells you they have found a large sum of money and is willing to share it, if you make a “good faith” payment by withdrawing funds from your account. After the withdrawal, there is often a second con artist involved, who will pose as a lawyer, banker, or some other trustworthy stranger who will take the money.
The fake accident ploy is when a scammer calls you and asks you to wire or send money, on the pretext that the person’s child or relative is in the hospital and needs money.
Charity scams involve the con artist calling you and trying to get your credit card information, through a donation to a fake charity. This often happens after a natural disaster.
The internet is another area where seniors have a higher risk of being defrauded. The unfamiliarity with how to navigate the internet, and it being a new technology for elderly people makes them an easy target online. Specifically, they are most susceptible to automated scams because of the sheer volume of them online.
Pop-up browser windows acting as a virus scanning software can trick you into either downloading a fake anti-virus program for a significant amount of money, or downloading a virus that will share any banking or personal information on your computer with scammers.
It is important to also be aware of E-mail and phishing scams. These can come in the form of an email, from what appears as a legitimate company/organization, asking you to update or verify their personal information.
For example, it could be the Canadian Revenue Service asking to update your information for a tax refund. When asked to enter, personal information, ensure the website URL matches the organization and has a green lock symbol on the far-left side, showing it is secure. Scamming websites can often replicate existing sites to make them look identical, so checking the URL is always your safest bet.
Scams are becoming more prominent among Canadians, with an increase from 70,000 complaints to the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre in 2015 to 90,000 in 2016. During the same year, online scams made up over 20,000 complaints and cost over $40-million in losses by Canadians.
According to these stats, it is safe to say scams aren’t going anywhere anytime soon. Being educated on how to avoid them is your best course of action. If something feels off, when you are asked to give out your personal information, it probably is.
Don’t hesitate to err on the cautious side, and if you are ever scammed don’t be afraid or embarrassed to come forward. The best course of action after being scammed, especially if it was money stolen from your account, is to file a police report right away. As well, call your credit card company or bank, immediately after you realize you’ve been scammed, they can put a freeze on your account to guarantee no further fraudulent action can be made against it. Doing these things will increase your chance of recovering your money and getting the scammer identified and criminally charged.