The ASC provides tips to help safeguard elderly Albertans from fraud
CALGARY – Today marks World Elder Abuse Awareness Day, and the Alberta Securities Commission (ASC) is warning Albertans about the risks seniors face of becoming victims of investment fraud. Adult children are encouraged to talk to their parents about investing and help them avoid losing their hard-earned money to a fraudulent investment scheme.
Seniors are often targeted by fraudsters because they are considered to have amassed more wealth than other segments of the population, in the form of retirement savings, homes, vacation properties or other assets. Many seniors of an advanced age are often also faced with social isolation and diminished decision-making capacity, making them more vulnerable to fraudulent investment schemes.
“Investment scams targeting the elderly are particularly troubling, as these individuals are often not only trusting but have limited opportunity to recover financially from their losses,” says Alison Trollope, Director, Communications and Investor Education, ASC. “It’s important to talk to the seniors in your life about money and how they can protect themselves from fraud.”
Although investment fraud takes many forms, below are three types of scams commonly aimed at seniors:
· Affinity fraud: A fraudulent opportunity is introduced by a family member, friend or a member of a community organization (such as a church or a curling club) and exploits the trust built in these types of relationships.
· Cold calls: Persistent sales people use aggressive sales tactics over the phone to pitch genuine-sounding investment opportunities.
· Investment seminars: Seniors are lured into an educational seminar, which often includes a free lunch or coffee. The seminars are usually sales pitches for “exciting” and “lucrative” investment opportunities. The elderly often feel obligated and pressured to invest because they have accepted the lunch or coffee.
In addition to being aware of the kinds of fraud directed at seniors, Albertans are also encouraged to share the tips below with their elderly parents to help them avoid investment fraud:
· Always research an investment opportunity before making a decision to invest, including checking the registration of the person or company offering the investment. This can be done online at www.aretheyregistered.ca or by calling the ASC at 1-877-355-4488.
· If approached with an investment opportunity, even if it is by someone you know, do not make a decision on the spot. Pressure to “invest now” is a red flag.
· Guaranteed rates of high return are common in fraudulent investments.
· Ask lots of questions; the right financial advisor or salesperson will welcome this. If the person offering an investment is vague or does not explain it clearly, think twice before investing.
· Request written information on the investment, such as financial reports. If this information is difficult to obtain, this is a red flag.
· Never give out personal information such as copies of your driver’s license, Social Insurance Number or credit card information.
For more information on investment fraud and how to protect yourself and your family, visit www.checkfirst.ca.
The ASC is the regulatory agency responsible for administering the province’s securities laws. It is entrusted with fostering a fair and efficient capital market in Alberta and with protecting investors. As a member of the Canadian Securities Administrators, the ASC works to improve, coordinate and harmonize the regulation of Canada’s capital markets.