Keeping seniors safe from fraud

We see and hear about fraud on an almost daily basis. But how do we help seniors avoid from scams they might never suspect?

In my last blog I mentioned that fraud comes in all shapes and sizes. Seniors are hit by fraudsters more than other age groups due to a variety of reasons. I proposed that if it takes a village to raise a child, it may take a village to help our seniors fight against all forms of fraud.

So, who is in this village and where do we start?

With us, as children and grandchildren, as the first line of defense. We need to educate ourselves and watch for warning signs of potential fraud against our elders. There are many websites out there that can help us in this regard, such as:

Once we educate ourselves, we need to have the conversation with our elders. Seniors who use a computer can also check these websites out for themselves. My 92-year-old mother doesn’t use a computer any more, so my brother and I keep it simple. We coach her that it’s okay to hang up on strange phone calls, never open her apartment door if she isn’t expecting anyone and to call us or the superintendent of the building if we’re not around and she needs assistance. For elders that have diminished capacity and/or memory issues, greater steps may need to be taken, perhaps all the way to having power of attorney over their affairs.

Care providers are the next line of defense. This comprises any and all home care providers, senior residence and nursing home staff.  Again, as children or grandchildren, we should have a conversation with these providers to determine what they can and cannot do in terms of providing care and protection from abuse and fraud.

Everyone else comes next.  These are all relatives, neighbours and friends who can do as little as come for a visit and make sure all is well.  It also includes a variety of agencies in the city that offer all manner of senior programs, such as support services for isolated and at-risk seniors. Check your local listings for these agencies and the different services they provide.

KEEP THE CONVERSATION GOING

What do we do when family and care providers are the very fraudsters we need to protect our seniors from? What do you think we can do?  Post a comment below.

Disclaimer

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect that of CPA Canada.

About the Author

Trudy Brodner, CPA, CMA

Trudy is currently retired after working many years in the oil and gas industry, a law firm and as an independent financial advisor.