Five years ago I received a call from my mother. My grandmother had just come back from the bank, having withdrawn $2000 as a certified cheque that was drafted to cover her grandson’s bail. Luckily, neither of her grandsons had been arrested, but my grandmother had been a victim of a phishing scam.
Scam artists pray on individuals who are vulnerable; people with memory issues or cognitive changes, and those who are lonely. As a result, seniors are often prime targets. A parent living alone may be in that category.
With tax season looming, cyber criminals are gearing up to take advantage of unsuspecting Canadians. The Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) has noted an increase in telephone and email scams, and advises Canadians to be vigilant and aware of the risk.
What can you do to help?
Establish a rule for your parents to call you or a trusted individual before making any financial decisions. A simple call can often be enough to discourage solicitors.
Have your parents follow these simple rules:
- Do not donate money to charities at the door
- Register on a “do not call list”
- Demand time to think about an offer
- Don’t share social insurance numbers or any personal information at the door or over the phone
- Never sign a contract without checking the source
In cases with more pronounced cognitive changes, it may be imperative for you to retain a Power of Attorney over your loved ones’ finances.
Attentiveness, education and planning go a long way in reducing the risk of phishing scams. Take precaution by occasionally reminding your elderly parent of such potential dangers and set clear guidelines as to how to deal with them.
Cattelan Private Wealth Counsel
HollisWealth®, a division of iA Securities Inc.