First of all, according to the Canadian Government’s Competition Bureau, there are no typical victims. So while we ignorantly assume that victims must be fools; they are often educated, intelligent and relatively affluent people. So beware; anyone can fall prey to the wiles of deception.
Still, if there are no typical victims, why do we worry that our grandmother or our spouse may be tricked into a malicious scheme? When they can breeze through the Challenger Crossword and leave us floundering and chewing on our pencils, why do we still have this nagging worry that someone will outsmart them and take advantage of them?
Simply, it may be because we know them to be caring, loving, and trusting people. Or it could be a case of loneliness when many older adults find themselves living on their own. Professional crooks are very friendly and compelling conversationalists! And part of their strategy is to appeal to our emotions and become our friends.
It’s no wonder when people feel the stinging bite of fraud; they are embarrassed to report that they were duped. Victims, especially elderly adults, may be too mortified to even tell their family, let alone the police. But this secrecy keeps the deceitful game rolling for the criminals. We need to leave shame behind and make sure that even if we failed initially to recognize fraud, we had the courage to report it.
If you know of a family member or friend who has been a victim of fraud, please don’t criticize or humiliate them. That will just ensure that they remain silent if the situation occurs again. Statistics show that the chances of a recurrence are high. Fraudsters have an inventory of successful scams, and they will refer to “sucker lists” of previous victims.
What can mature adults do to protect themselves?
- Know that it’s not rude to hang up on suspicious callers
- Don’t let relentless criminal telemarketers wear you down
- Register with the Do Not Call List
- Don’t give out personal information or cash to anyone you don’t know
- Ask to see credentials from all charities and crosscheck directly through the Registered Canadian charities on the Canada Revenue Agency Web site.
What should relatives or friends look for if they suspect their loved ones may be victims of fraud?
- Mysterious bank account withdrawals and larger credit card balances
- An increase in too-good-to-be-true mail offers
- Numerous calls for donations to unfamiliar charities
- Neglected household or personal expenditures
- Change in person’s behavior, e.g. anxiety, depression, withdrawal, secrecy
Communication is key. If you are feeling victimized, tell your family or call the police. They’ll thank you for it. If you are worried that a family member or friend is being victimized, do them a favour and initiate that personal conversation.
As Certified Relocation & Transition Specialists, we guide mature adults, going through middle and later life transitions, and their families through the physical and emotional upheaval of moving.