Many Canadians ill-equipped to stop financial elder abuse

Survey from regulators reveals 91% of those with an older person in their life face perceived barriers to financial discussions

Many Canadians ill-equipped to stop financial elder abuse

Aside from being a catchy slogan, “if you see something, say something” is a useful catch-all guideline to prevent any form of suspicious or questionable activity, including potential elder abuse. But according to a new survey conducted by the Canadian Securities Administrators (CSA), that may not be so easy for everyday Canadians.

In a joint online survey of 1,500 Canadian adults conducted by Edelman in collaboration with Angus Reid, just 42% of respondents said they could recognize signs of financial elder abuse, and only 47% said they knew where to report cases of abuse. What’s more, 29% said that they personally know someone who’s been the victim of such misconduct.

“As Canada’s population ages, it is extremely important that we all learn how to recognize the warning signs of financial abuse and take proactive steps to check in with the older adults in our lives,” Louis Morisset, CSA Chair and president and CEO of the Autorité des marchés financiers, said in a statement.

Everyone knows to keep their guard up around strangers. However, 81% of the Canadians surveyed recognized that in cases of financial abuse, older adults are usually victimized by someone close to them.

Ideally, seniors should have someone they could open up to in case they’re being financially exploited. But to begin with, those revelations have to start with financial conversations, and the survey found that 91% of Canadians with an older adult in their life perceive at least one barrier to those types of discussions.

For nearly four tenths of those polled, those obstacles come from perceptions that their elderly loved one has their finances firmly in control (38%) or that it’s not their place to have money talks (37%). Aside from that, nearly one third (30%) said the topic of finance doesn’t come up in conversation.

Nearly three fourths (73%) said they know who manages the financial affairs of the older adult in their life, and three fifths of respondents (61%) believe that older adults would open up if they were financially abused. However, seniors might actually be ashamed to admit it when they are victimized.

“Older Canadians are particularly susceptible to financial exploitation and fraud,” Morisset said. “Checking in regularly with the older adults in our lives about their finances – no matter their financial situation – is critical to raise awareness of financial abuse and ultimately help prevent it.”

To take action and help prevent financial abuse of seniors, the CSA encouraged Canadians to:

  • Talk about their financial matters with them;
  • Learn to recognize and avoid investment scams;
  • Investigate every investment opportunity or sales pitch, as well as the person promoting the investment, before putting money in it;
  • Consider seeking independent, third-party advice; and
  • Report investment fraud to the securities regulator in their province or territory.

The CSA and its members are also conducting various initiatives through June to help Canadians detect, prevent, and respond to the financial abuse of seniors.


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