Safeguard your finances from scammers: tips for seniors

No doubt you’ve read stories in the news or heard personal accounts from friends of older Canadians falling prey to financial scams. Unfortunately, there are a lot of them out there, leaving too many unsuspecting individuals as financial victims.

We understand how vital it is to protect your hard-earned money, especially during retirement. Our chartered professional accountants offer a wide variety of financial services, like tax support and retirement & estate planning. But even careful planning can be undone if you don’t protect yourself from fraud.

Stay informed so you’ll be prepared to recognize concerning situations and prevent yourself from becoming a victim. Keep reading for our tips that will help you protect yourself from fraudsters who want to exploit your financial vulnerability. 

Rising threat of fraud victimization 

Unfortunately, new scams are emerging all the time and there’s been a sharp increase in the volume of fraud attempts. According to a recent report by TransUnion, a major credit bureau, there was an 80% increase in attempts from 2019 to 2022. If this number isn’t alarming enough, consider that during the same period, the number of transactions conducted digitally in Canada also rose by a whopping 189%. That means that the potential to be victimized by scams has increased quite significantly, making it essential to be vigorous about protecting your financial information. 

It’s likely you’ve already been targeted by one or more scams, with the same TransUnion report indicating that 52% of Canadiansw were targeted via email, phone, online, or text messaging in just the three months leading up to the September 2022 survey. 

And at the same time, data breaches are also increasing, putting all of us at a growing risk of identity engineering and theft. So how can you protect yourself? There are a few things you can do to avoid being targeted:

Stay informed 

Knowledge is your first line of defence against financial scams. Be proactive about familiarizing yourself with common scam tactics, like phishing emails, fake charities, investment fraud, and identity theft. Staying educated about evolving scams empowers you to recognize warning signs and protect your assets.

Chartered Professional Accountants Canada hosts financial literacy sessions, including fraud protection for seniors. If you’re interested in learning more or booking a session as a part of a local organization, you can find out more here

Never share personal information 

The rise of the digital age means that we now share more data and face more risks to our privacy and security. We need to be more vigilant than ever about protecting our personal information.

Fraudsters often use deceptive tactics to obtain sensitive personal information. It’s particularly crucial to protect details like your Social Insurance Number (SIN) and bank account information. Ensure that the request is legitimate before sharing any sensitive information—especially over the phone or by email. 

Be wary of unsolicited calls and emails

Scammers frequently try to gain access to your finances through unsolicited calls or emails that are meant to collect information from you. They may emulate your family members, your bank, a service provider, a company you do business with, or even the government. 

You should always be cautious about your interactions, especially if there’s a request for you to share your personal information. If you have any concerns at all about the legitimacy of the request, contact the individual or organization independently through their normal channels before responding. 

Verify charities and donations

It’s admirable to make charitable donations that give back to society and help others in need. Unfortunately, even this thoughtful act can become entangled in fraud. The percentage of Canadian donors age 65 and older is growing steadily, with 34% of 2022 donors falling into this age range, according to Statistics Canada.

Before making charitable contributions, thoroughly research the organization to ensure it’s legitimate by searching the Better Business Bureau or verifying it on the list of charities maintained by the Canada Revenue Agency. That way, you’ll avoid falling victim to fake charities. 

Avoid high-pressure sales tactics

If it seems too good to be true, it very likely is. Using high-pressure sales tactics to persuade you to make hasty financial decisions is a definite red flag. Another indication that something is remiss is promising guaranteed returns on an investment, since no investment is entirely risk-free. If you’ve been asked to provide funds in an unusual format, like a gift card or bitcoin, that’s also a common indicator that you’re being scammed.

You should always take your time to review any requests or investment opportunities and seek advice from a trusted financial advisor before committing. Be particularly wary of any investment opportunity that seems too good to be true—there’s a good chance it is.

Be vigilant about accounts and passwords 

It’s essential to monitor your bank statements, credit reports, and investment accounts so you’ll be able to detect any unauthorized transactions or suspicious activity. Immediately report any discrepancies to your financial institution or advisor. 

Creating strong, unique passwords for all of your financial accounts, and using two-factor authentication whenever possible, can also help to protect you from online scams. Never click on a suspicious link or download unknown attachments in emails. 

Consult a trusted advisor

Particularly as we continue to share more information online, it’s important to protect yourself and your retirement savings from being subjected to fraud. One way you may feel more secure is by engaging the services of a qualified financial expert who can provide you with ongoing guidance to manage your finances and avoid potential scams.

At MMT Chartered Professional Accountants, our team of experts offers a wide range of services including helping you review investment opportunities, implementing tax strategies to minimize your tax burden, assisting you with retirement and estate planning, and ensuring your overall financial security. 

Protecting your finances is particularly important during retirement, when you want to be able to enjoy the fruits of your many long years of labour. You’ll need to remain vigilant.

For more information on how to protect yourself, contact MMT Chartered Professional Accountants, or look for reputable sources online. You may wish to access the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre, or other reputable sources like British Columbia’s scams and fraud page or Alberta’s fraud prevention site. 

By staying informed about common scams, safeguarding your personal information, and seeking professional advice, you’ll be better prepared to protect your hard-earned money from scammers, and enjoy the retirement you always dreamed of. 

Latest Posts