Canadian Seniors Lose $6 Million Annually to Fraudulent Marketing and Financial Scams



    Capital One joins forces with SeniorBusters to help seniors spot fraud
    and fight back

    TORONTO, July 10 /CNW Telbec/ - According to the most recent data from
SeniorBusters, thousands of elderly Canadians are victimized by financial
fraud each year. Mail, telephone and online scams have left many seniors with
significant monetary losses, often depleting their life-savings. Capital One
Canada has joined forces with SeniorBusters to raise awareness about the
prevalence of these crimes and help educate and protect seniors from fraud.
    "Education and helping to build a heightened awareness about these kinds
of crimes is critical to protecting older citizens in our communities and
preventing fraud," said Pam Girardo, spokesperson for Capital One Canada. "We
are delighted to see that we have helped SeniorBusters expand their efforts to
educate seniors about the real dangers lurking in their own communities. We
hope this knowledge will empower seniors and prevent them from falling victim
to these predators."
    Capital One's financial support to SeniorBusters is helping them purchase
much needed equipment to enable expanded outreach efforts. SeniorBusters is
the volunteer component of PhoneBusters, the Canadian Anti-Fraud Call Centre
jointly run by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP), the Ontario
Provincial Police, and the Competition Bureau Canada. SeniorBusters, which is
staffed by retired seniors who volunteer to help other seniors, uses a
hands-on approach and direct community outreach.
    "We see that the fraudsters prey on the fact that seniors are often
lonely, lacking family support, and are sometimes additionally vulnerable as a
result of Alzheimer's or similarly impairing illnesses," said Sgt. Debbie
Bell, an Ontario Provincial Police Officer with SeniorBusters. "The fact that
our volunteers are themselves seniors helps break down barriers when
communicating with victims. This approach generally makes seniors more
comfortable with reporting the crime and it facilitates raising awareness of
the many scams out there."
    Fraudsters are increasingly innovative, employing a broad range of scams
to rip-off seniors. Identity theft topped the list in 2007 with a reported
$6,421,952 lost, followed by the "Nigerian Letter" scam (where a fictitious
high-ranking person in a foreign country tries to enlist help moving a large
sum of money out of their country into the victim's bank account) which
claimed $4,935,030, investment scams, which accounted for an additional
$3,553,320 lost, and scams offering phony prizes, which generated losses of
$3,506,289.
    "The number of scams designed to take advantage of consumers,
particularly seniors, is increasing," added Girardo. "Seniors and others can
help protect themselves from financial fraud by carefully protecting their
personal information including credit card, bank account and Social Insurance
Numbers."

    
    Age         Number of            (Annual) Average     (Annual) Total
    Range       Victims (CND/US)     Loss Per Victim      Loss For Age Range

    50-59       1680                 $5,116.42            $8,595,593.57
    60-69       990                  $7,737.58            $7,660,202.49
    70-79       875                  $7,918.20            $6,928,425.82
    80-89       589                  $9,351.74            $5,508,172.27
    90-99       64                   $29,228.98           $1,870,654.67

    Phonebusters also stresses that while identity theft and other forms of
financial fraud affect individuals, there is also an impact on government,
business, and the general public. The challenge of thwarting this type of
crime is further complicated by the fact that identity theft is often
coordinated nationally and/or internationally. In light of this, the RCMP is
working with other law enforcement agencies, other sections of the Government
of Canada, the provinces, territories and private industry to fight this
growing trend. Individual Canadians are urged to be proactive in fighting
identity fraud.
    "Everyone must be vigilant in protecting themselves against loss of their
personal and financial information," said Cpl. Louis Robertson, an RCMP
officer with PhoneBusters.
    Capital One Canada also offers tips for seniors to help guard against
identity theft and fraud:

    - Don't be afraid to say 'no'.
    - Be careful when you speak to telemarketers - hang up if you feel
      uncomfortable or do not trust the caller.
    - Don't give in to high-pressure sales tactics.
    - Don't reveal your credit card, bank account or Social Insurance Numbers
      to unfamiliar companies or people.
    - Do your own research on charities and other solicitors.
    - It is your money - never be afraid to ask where it is going.
    - Get details of all deals in writing and never sign contracts that have
      blank lines or spaces in them.
    - If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
    

    If you suspect or know you are a victim of fraudulent scams (including:
telemarketing fraud, advanced fee fraud, and identity theft) contact your
local police service, report fraud online through www.recol.ca or call The
Canadian Anti-Fraud Call Centre (formerly PhoneBusters) at 1-888-495-8501.
    For a copy of Capital One's Guide to Protecting Yourself from Identity
Theft, visit www.capitalone.ca/fraud.

    About Capital One Canada:

    Located in Toronto, Ontario, Capital One has offered Canadian consumers a
range of competitive MasterCard(R) credit cards since 1996, when the company
first introduced the Platinum MasterCard(R) in Canada. Capital One Canada is a
division of Capital One Bank, a subsidiary of Capital One Financial
Corporation of McLean, Virginia (NYSE:   COF).

    About PhoneBusters and SeniorBusters (www. phonebusters.com)

    The Canadian Anti-Fraud Call Centre (CAFCC) was established in January
1993 by the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) as Project PhoneBusters and is
today jointly operated by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, the OPP and the
Competition Bureau Canada. CAFCC is a national call centre where Canadians can
report mass marketing fraud and identity theft complaints. SeniorBusters
presently consists of more than 60 volunteer members over the age of 50. These
volunteer members work to reduce the level of fraudulent telemarketing against
seniors. They contact family members, local police agencies, elder abuse
committees, and will provide the seniors with the necessary tools to
effectively fight this crime.




For further information:

For further information: Capital One Canada: Pam Girardo, (416)
549-2783, pam.girardo@capitalone.com; PhoneBusters: RCMP Cpl. Louis Robertson,
(705) 494-3182; SeniorBusters: Ontario Provincial Police Sgt. Debbie Bell,
(705) 494-3628

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