Vancouver Foundation

Fall 2013

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? r - o Words to the wise She always withdrew a little bit at a time. A burgeoning senior population, many Her family thinks the scammers told her to of whom grow more desperate as they face do it in small amounts so it wouldn't draw Help prevent elder abuse with these the reality of a long retirement, is particuattention. By the time Barbara's son found cautionary tips (and share them with larly susceptible to risk-taking and scams out, his mother had sent more than any seniors you think could be at risk): that promise unreal financial returns – and $20,000 to an obscure address in Toronto. why, for fraudsters, business is booming. Limit the personal information (e.g., On several occasions, the scammers even Since 1994, BCCEAS has worked to vacation plans) you put on the Internet prevent elder abuse by providing educasent a UPS delivery person to Barbara's se(scammers troll sites like Facebook to tion, support, advocacy and legal represenniors' residence to pick up the cash. gather personal information). Barbara's private pain, and Rooney and tation to older adults. Three lawyers and a Be suspicious of anyone who calls Astor's far more public troubles, are only legal advocate run a law clinic for marginunexpectedly asking for cash. three examples of a disturbing trend: finanalized and low-income older adults. cial abuse of elders is on the rise. BCCEAS also has a victim services proVerify any supposed emergency There are no reliable statistics on such gram, and recently expanded the hours of by calling friends and family before scams in Canada. However, in the US, the operation for its Seniors Abuse and wiring money. annual financial loss by victims of elder fiCreate a secret code or password with Information Line. nancial abuse in 2010 was estimated to be at BCCEAS offers educational workshops family members that can be used to least $3 billion, a 12 per cent increase from for elders in four areas: verify a true emergency. the $2.6 billion estimated in 2008.* 1) frauds and scams; If an investment sounds too good to be Fake lotteries, fake charities, phishing, 2) abuse around power of attorney and true, it probably is. dating scams, miracle cures. There are so joint bank accounts; Say no when someone pressures you many types of fraud that Canada's 3) building community connections; and for money. Competition Bureau has produced The 4) bullying in residential care. Little Black Book of Scams. It's filled with exWith a recent Health and Social Make sure you fully understand every amples of how everyone, and especially seDevelopment grant of $36,500 from document you sign. niors, can be tricked, swindled, duped, Vancouver Foundation, the Centre is defrauded, faked and romanced out of their life savings. All this by an planning to expand these outreach efforts. BCCEAS will train five increasingly sophisticated and web-savvy group of criminals who prey volunteers from each of 10 agencies (including MOSAIC, the South on people's weaknesses and exploit their good will. Granville Seniors Centre, the Minoru Seniors Centre, the Council of These scams have become increasingly common. In 2009, the Seniors, Better at Home and United Way), delivering 50 educational Federal Trade Commission (FTC) recorded 743 incidences of scam- workshops. These volunteers will then train others in their networks, mers impersonating a family member or friend in need of money. and the knowledge will spread. Since 2010, the FTC has recorded more than 40,000 scams, and it's "We're here to help people," says Lewis. "Our goal is to get this estimated that many more go unreported. important information out as widely as possible. We don't have the Everyone with an email account knows about the Nigerian bank- connections these other agencies have. We are here as a resource, suping scams that have been circulating the Internet for years. They seem porting other agencies to become educated and to share the informaalmost laughable now. But for many seniors whose judgment may be tion in their own community. compromised by age or disease, and whose experience on the web is "In the coming years, we must cope with an aging population, limited, these scams still pose a real threat. and all that entails. It's a massive challenge. Martha Jane Lewis, executive director of the BC Centre for Elder "We have to educate elders about their rights, and the harsh realiAdvocacy and Support (BCCEAS), says elder abuse is a huge problem ties they may face. And we have to tell younger Canadians, 'Don't feel and it's growing. "Statistics for Canada are almost non-existent. But entitled to get your parents' money while they are still alive.' Power of we estimate that one per cent of seniors report experiencing some attorney is not a legal instrument to spend your parents' money beform of physical abuse, and eight per cent report experiencing finan- fore they're dead." VF cial abuse." *The MetLife Study of Elder Financial Abuse: Crimes of Occasion, According to Lewis, the reason for this growth is two-fold. First, Desperation, and Predation Against America's Elders (June 2011) it's simple demography – the number of seniors is exploding. Second, seniors are living longer, and need to save more than ever before for For more information, call the BCCEAS Seniors Abuse and their retirement. Even large pension funds are not prepared for the Information Line at 604.437.1940 or toll-free at 1.866.437.1940 reality of people being retired for more than 40 years. Many baby from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily. This is a safe place where older boomers now facing retirement haven't saved like their parents. They adults can get free, anonymous advice. Or, visit the website at have far less money and don't have a company pension plan to fall To support this project, call the Foundation at back on. As a society, we do not always recognize the sometimes des604.688.2204 or visit perate conditions this vulnerable population must endure. . . . . . . . p24-25 Elder Abuse.indd 25 Fall 2013 I Vancouver Foundation l page 25 13-10-11 1:35 PM

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