Fraud is the number one crime against older Canadians. Common types of fraud and scams include identity theft, credit or debit card fraud, online scams, and phone and door-to-door scams.
Though anyone can be a victim of fraud, older people are frequently targeted because they are perceived as financially stable, trusting, generous, and courteous. Older adults may also be home during the day to answer the door or phone and, depending on the circumstances, may not have family or friends close by to ask for a second opinion.
To protect yourself from frauds and scams, here are some tips recommended by governments and organizations from across the country:
- Trust your gut. If you think it’s a scam, don’t be afraid to hang up the phone, say no, delete the email or walk away.
- Con artists try to pressure you into making quick or unwise choices. If someone is trying to convince you to sign a contract or provide your personal information, take time to reflect and investigate the situation. Don’t sign or commit to anything without taking time to think it over.
- Don’t pay to win or inherit money. Never send money to someone you don’t know or trust. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
- When it comes to computers, con artists randomly target email addresses, hoping for a response. If you click a pop-up ad, you could inadvertently allow a third party to install a virus or malicious software on your system, and access your personal information. To protect yourself, learn how to protect your computer and manage your email safely.
- Sharing personal information online increases your risk of identity theft. Guard your personal information and don’t share PINs, passwords or other personal identifiers. Only provide addresses and phone numbers to people you know and trust.
- Never give out your credit card, bank account number or personal information to someone over the phone, at the door or over the Internet unless you know the person or organization you are dealing with.
- Cover your hand when entering your PIN at bank machines and when making store purchases.
- When in doubt, ask someone you trust for advice.
In addition to the tips I shared above, there are a number of resources you can access to protect yourself against fraud and scams:
The Consumer Protection Office hears, mediates and investigates consumer-related complaints. For more information, phone the CPO at 204-945-3800 (Winnipeg) or 1-800-782-0067 (toll-free), or visit www.manitoba.ca/cca/cpo.
Sign up for alerts at email@example.com. Consumer protection advice is sent directly to your inbox.
The Manitoba Securities Commission takes action to prevent scams before they happen. The commission also reviews all types of scams and fraud complaints and offers brochures, fact sheets and other information to help protect people from fraud. For more information, including brochures and fact sheets, contact the MSC at 204-945-2548 (in Winnipeg) or 1-800-655-5244 (toll-free); or email firstname.lastname@example.org or website www.mbsecurities.ca .
The Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre collects information and criminal intelligence on telemarketing fraud, Internet fraud, identity theft and other types of fraud. To find out about different types of fraud, how to report fraud and how to protect yourself, visit their website at www.antifraudcentre-centreantifraude.ca/protectyourself-protegezvous/index-eng.htm.
For more information about seniors programs and services in Manitoba, please call the seniors information line at 204-945-6565 in Winnipeg, toll-free 1-800-665-6565; or email email@example.com.
Hon. Kelvin Goertzen is the MLA for Steinbach and the minister of health, seniors and active living.