The most common scams targeting seniors are mail fraud, home repair cons and phone scams. Knowing about these scams will make it easier to avoid them!
Mail fraud. Mail fraud can be hard to detect because of the many different types of schemes that are out there. Some of the most common are fake cheques, phony sweepstakes, foreign lotteries, free prize or vacation scams, donation requests from charities that don’t exist, get-rich-quick chain letters, inheritance and investment schemes, and many more.
A few simple ways to ensure your loved one is not falling into the trap of mail fraud is to check for mail that they have not requested. It may contain different offers for money or prizes. As a caregiver, share with your loved one why it is important to throw this kind of mail away. Unauthorized credit card charges on statements are also something to look out for if you take care of your loved one's finances.
Home repair fraud. Throughout the year, the Better Business Bureau receives frequent complaints from seniors that are being taken advantage of by unscrupulous home repair providers. The most common fraud that the Bureau gets called about is when a fake or dishonest handyman offers to provide a service. For example, a person shows up at the door saying they noticed a few damages on a senior’s roof. When they are hired, the scam artist demands payment in advance, pretends to do the repairs, then leaves and never comes back. Another common fraud is a false request to check the phone line inside the house, providing the scam artist the opportunity to steal personal information once inside.
As a caregiver, you can stress to your loved one that they should never listen to door-to-door contractors and that they should always get references and estimates before they agree to any repairs. You should also let them know not let any strangers into the house.
Phone scams. Phone scams are also very common. Often times, someone will reach out to you pretending to be a representative of a charity, an employee of a credit card company or even a representative of the CRA. The senior might be offered various prizes or even trips. Tell your senior never to give personal information, such as banking information and social security numbers to anyone over the phone, unless they made the call first and know they are speaking to the right agency.
How to stay up to date about scams. To learn more about the latest scams affecting seniors, visit the Government of Canada website.