The ASC promotes top 10 tips for seniors in advance of World Elder Abuse Awareness Day
CALGARY, June 6, 2016 /CNW/ - Financial abuse is one of the most frequently reported forms of elder abuse in the province according to the Government of Alberta. With World Elder Abuse Awareness Day (June 15) approaching, the Alberta Securities Commission (ASC) is empowering Alberta's seniors to self-protect against investment fraud by providing straightforward tips. These 10 simple tips will assist seniors to combat investment fraud and help to safeguard their hard-earned money.
Financial fraudsters often target seniors in Alberta for various reasons. Many seniors are trusting individuals and, by virtue of their age, have typically amassed more wealth than other segments of the population, in the form of retirement savings, residential and vacation properties and other assets. In addition, new online technologies are sometimes difficult for seniors to navigate, making them a vulnerable target. Further, because of shame or embarrassment, seniors are not likely to speak up when fraud happens to them.
"Investment fraud costs Albertans millions of dollars annually, and many victims are elderly," says Alison Trollope, Director, Communications and Investor Education, Alberta Securities Commission. "We encourage seniors to have open lines of communication with their advisors or the person managing their finances to diminish the chances of investment fraud and help protect their retirement savings and assets. The most important thing to remember is your money belongs to you, and you alone."
In conjunction with the North American Securities Administrators Association (NASAA), the ASC has outlined 10 tips to protect seniors' retirement savings and assets. They include:
- Don't be a victim of your manners – Con artists will exploit your good manners. It's OK to say "no" to an investment opportunity.
- Check out strangers touting "strange" deals – Trusting strangers is a mistake anyone can make in their personal finances. Say "no" to any investment professional who presses you to make an immediate decision, giving you no opportunity to check out the salesperson, firm and the investment opportunity itself. Visit Checkfirst.ca to check the registration of the person and organization offering the investment.
- Always stay in charge of your money – Beware of someone asking to manage or invest your money into something you don't understand or who urges you to leave everything in his or her hands, including power of attorney.
- Don't judge a book by its cover – Successful con artists can sound and look professional.
- Watch out for salespeople who prey on your fears – Con artists know that you worry about your future, including having enough money to live the retirement of your dreams, being able to leave a legacy for your family and the possibility of outliving your savings. Scammers will use those fears to convince you to hand over your money.
- Don't make a tragedy worse with rash financial decisions – The death or hospitalization of a spouse has many sad consequences – financial fraud shouldn't be one of them.
- Monitor your investments and ask tough questions – Keep an eye on the progress of your investments. This is prudent even if you're not concerned about fraud.
- Look out for difficulties retrieving your principal or cashing out profits – If the individual has assured you that you can withdraw your money at any time, but stalls when you want to pull out your principal or profits, you may have uncovered someone who has cheated you.
- Don't let embarrassment or fear keep you from reporting investment fraud or abuse – Scam artists know that you might be hesitant to report you have been victimized by fraud.
- Beware of "recovery room" scams – Faced with a loss of funds, some seniors who have been victimized once will go along with another scheme in which the scam artists promise to make good on the original funds lost, and possibly even generate new returns beyond those originally promised.
In addition to being aware of the tips on how seniors can protect themselves against investment fraud, Albertans are also encouraged to educate themselves on the ways that seniors are often approached:
- 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.
- Online ads: Pop-up ads will appear on various websites that seniors may visit, such as lottery and investing sites and social media sites such as Facebook. These ads are designed to lure viewers in, with promises of "easy money" and "high return, low risk" investments. Clicking on the ad will lead to the fraudster's website, which contains more misleading information on the investment opportunity.
- 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.
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.
SOURCE Alberta Securities Commission
For further information: Mark Dickey, Alberta Securities Commission, Senior Communications Advisor, Phone: 403-297-4481; For Investor Inquiries: ASC Public Inquiries, Toll Free 1.877.355.4488