‘Don’t be so trusting’: Seniors a popular target for scammers
West Lincoln age friendly advisory committee holds forum for seniors
Photo: The West Lincoln Age Friendly Advisory Committee held a seniors forum on Friday, including a presentation on fighting fraud. In the photo, back, from left: Linda Sivyer, Cheryl Ganann and Brock Godfrey. In front is Karen Lemieux. – Luke Edwards/Torstar
Today’s seniors grew up in a day and age when they were taught to be trusting of others.
And while that’s a welcome trait in many ways, it’s also seen by scammers as an opportunity to cheat well-meaning retirees out of their hard-earned money. On Friday, nearly 150 seniors came out to a forum for seniors hosted by the West Lincoln age friendly advisory committee. The forum featured dozens of agencies, groups and businesses providing information important to seniors, and a presentation from Brock Godfrey of the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre.
“Don’t be so trusting,” said Godfrey, boiling his presentation down to one simple phrase.
Godfrey outlined some of the ways seniors can be scammed and how to deal with those situations. Some of the familiar scams include the tax scam where someone claims to be from the Canada Revenue Agency.
But while that’s a well-known scam, it’s not the most prevalent.
“The romance scam is by far the biggest,” he said. When playing with the emotional heartstrings of a person, it’s easy to get them to fall prey.
And when those unfortunate seniors do become a victim, Godfrey said they often are too ashamed to report it.
“They refuse to go to the police,” he said. “They just don’t want to admit they put a mortgage on the house and cashed in their pension.”
Karen Lemieux has so far been lucky and vigilant enough to not fall victim, but knows scammers are out there.
“I think we need more of this,” she said. She said her house receives calls every now and then from suspected scammers. One thing she learned Friday was to be careful with how she or her husband responds to a scammer. If you get too angry or frustrated with them they can make your life tough in other ways, like calling in the middle of the night or very early in the morning.
Lemieux’s mother-in-law now carries a medical alert bracelet, which further complicates things when she answers a call to dead air. Is it her mother-in-law calling for help, or someone with bad intentions?
“We don’t hang up so quick now,” she said.
Lemieux said she believes these types of presentations are important for more than just seniors, as young people can be scammed too, especially online.
West Lincoln resident Diane Willis agreed.
“We learned so much,” she said, adding scammers can quickly gain access to private information. She’s thankful she hasn’t been a victim.
“We’re hearing really positive feedback,” said Linda Sivyer, chair of the age friendly committee, about the forum.
Vice chair and West Lincoln township Coun. Cheryl Ganann said they were happy with the turnout and the presentation. She was also happy to see the agencies who were there networking and learning how they can help tackle fraud.
“Seniors are susceptible because they’re trusting,” she said. “It’s very easy to happen when you’re distracted and thinking about other things.”
The Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre’s primary goals are prevention through education and awareness, disrupting criminal activity and supporting law enforcement. To report a scam to them call 1-888-495-8501 Monday to Friday from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. You can also file a complaint online at antifraudcentre.ca.