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These tips will help keep seniors in your life safe from evil scammers

Keeping seniors from scams

Are you weary of the incessant scam attempts via phone calls, emails, texts, and social media? Regrettably, the landscape may become more treacherous with emerging technologies capable of crafting personalized messages and replicating voices in under five seconds. While the exponential growth of AI promises to enhance our productivity and leisure time, it also equips criminals with increasingly sophisticated means to siphon our hard-earned funds.

In 2022, the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre reported a staggering $530 million in losses due to fraud and cybercrime—a nearly 40% surge from the unprecedented $380 million lost in 2021. Yet, these figures likely represent a fraction of the actual losses, as fraud often goes unreported due to victims’ shame of being duped or skepticism about authorities’ efficacy in resolving such cases.

Contrary to popular belief, the most common victims of fraud are not seniors, but young people ages 20-29. However, older adults suffer the most substantial losses of money. At the Seniors Outreach & Resource Centre, they see the devastating impact of fraud through stories like that of a 68-year-old man on the brink of eviction after falling victim to a $3,000 cryptocurrency scam, or an 80-year-old grandmother losing $5,000 while attempting to aid her supposed granddaughter in a legal matter.

It’s important to understand that anyone can be a scam victim and not simply a case of people being gullible. Observers may not be aware that some criminals’ emotional manipulations are extremely sophisticated and often part of international crime rings where tricksters are able to hone their techniques by targeting a huge number of potential victims. Advances in technology are making it easier for scam artists to reach you and be more convincing.

While experts devise new policies and technologies to combat fraud, the onus lies on individuals to safeguard themselves in the interim. With March marking Fraud Awareness Month, it is an opportune moment for action given the uptick in scams during the busy tax season. These four crucial strategies are recommended to thwart fraudsters:

1. Be Alert

• Awareness empowers seniors to question requests for personal information or money. Learning about common scams and sharing information with peers helps create a vigilant community.

• Educate yourself to recognize red flags, such as requests for payment via gift cards or a cryptocurrency ATM. Always scams.

• Employ fraud-prevention measures such as establishing a family password that is solely used for genuine emergencies. Another good habit is seeking advice from a trusted friend or family member before departing with your money.

2. Slow Down

• Scammers thrive on urgency. Whether it’s the grandparent scam or online impostor, the scammer’s story is designed to trigger a response that we jump into problem solving mode and feel pressure to act. Resist the impulse to act immediately. Remember, genuine emergencies are rare.

• When faced with unexpected requests for your information or money, always pause and assess the situation. Question the legitimacy of unsolicited calls and texts.

• End a conversation immediately if something doesn’t feel right. Canadian seniors are targeted because we are famously polite.

3. Check First

• Verify the legitimacy of a requestor before divulging sensitive information.

• Avoid using contact details provided in suspicious messages. Scammers often claim to be with well-known companies and government offices. So independently verify the requestor through numbers that you source through trusted channels.

• Call your family member back on a known number, even if the person on the line says that is not possible right now.

4. Report It

• Aid in combatting fraud by promptly reporting incidents to the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre online or toll-free at 1-888-495-8501.

• Report fraud to local police, who are better positioned to investigate. Your information could add to a current investigation or help link a number of crimes together, in Canada and abroad.

• Call your bank or credit union, who can sometimes help depending on the circumstances.

For further guidance on protecting your savings from scams, explore helpful resources at seniorsoutreach.ca/fraudprevention. The organization’s social media channels, which can be found at @SeniorsOutreach, will offer additional tips throughout the month.

More information about Seniors Outreach & Resource Centre can be found on its website here.

This article is written by or on behalf of the sponsoring client and does not necessarily reflect the views of Castanet.

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