Five Telemarketing Scams That Impact Seniors in Canada


While you may think of your elderly loved ones as trustworthy and devoted, scam artists often see them as easy targets for financial gain. The Canadian Department of Justice reports that every year, 10 per cent of Canadian seniors fall prey to consumer fraud, with telemarketing schemes being among the most prevalent types of fraud perpetrated against this demographic. Fraud is the number one type of crime that impacts older adults in Canada.

It is imperative that you take preventative measures in advance if you are responsible for the care of senior family members so that they do not become victims of fraudulent telemarketing schemes. This may involve checking in with your loved one regularly to ensure they don't become a victim or enlisting the help of a professional in-home caregiver from Senior Home Care by Angels. You'll have a lot less problems later on if you do this.

Why Seniors in Canada Are Common Targets of Telemarketing Scams

Here are some reasons why scammers often target the elderly:

Financial Stability

Scammers often prey on the elderly due to having large financial nest eggs and their perceived greater financial vulnerability. Scammers are especially drawn to retirement funds and government benefits. In addition, seniors tend to be less stingy with their cash and more willing to help those in need. Con artists asking for money while acting as a "grandson" or "daughter" are more likely to get their hands on it.

Financially vulnerable seniors, on the other hand, are more likely to fall for "get rich quick schemes" such pyramid schemes and false business prospects. In these scenarios, the senior is duped by a dishonest firm that either never delivers the promised funds or ensnares them in an endless cycle of debt payment without ever delivering what was promised.

More Likely to be Isolated

Many elderly people experience loneliness because they are isolated from their social networks. Even those who have just retired find it challenging to readjust to a lifestyle that does not entail regular job or social engagements. This is fertile ground for con artists, who may find it simple to form a rapport with a vulnerable elderly person. If the elderly person is unable to check their bank accounts on a regular basis, it may be too late for loved ones to learn about the fraud and help them recover their money.

Emotional Vulnerability

Many elderly adults in Canada were brought up to be respectful and honest. As a result, many seniors have trouble saying "no" and hanging up on telemarketers, and con artists use this to their advantage. Scammers often take advantage of a senior's sincere intentions to better their own or a loved one's health by peddling bogus remedies in exchange for money.

Higher Rates of Cognitive Decline

Many people over 65 suffer from memory loss and other cognitive impairments that make them easy targets for fraudulent telemarketers. Older people are easy prey for con artists because they are more vulnerable to the effects of cognitive decline, such as becoming confused quickly or having trouble recalling conversations.

Lower Likelihood to Recognize and Report Fraud

According to Competition Bureau Canada, less than 5 per cent of fraud victims report their experiences to law enforcement agencies, and seniors are especially unlikely to recognize when they've become a victim of fraud or report the incident. Some seniors may go weeks, months, or even years without realizing they were defrauded. Sometimes the victims of fraud are too embarrassed or confused to report the incident to the proper authorities. And when older adults report scams, they may not be good witnesses if they have trouble remembering all the facts.

Most Common Types of Telemarketing Scams in Canada

Learning to recognize typical telemarketing scams is one method to protect your loved ones from financial exploitation. The most popular telemarking scams include, but are not limited to, the following:

Medical Identity Theft

When committing medical identity theft, the perpetrator often poses as someone in the healthcare sector. Scammers target the elderly via telephone to get sensitive information such as Social Insurance Numbers (SINs). They may then utilize this knowledge to their advantage in a number of ways, including financially exploiting the victim.

The Grandparent Con

The "Grandparent Con" is an easy scam that takes advantage of how much grandparents love their grandkids. Scammers use lines like "Hi Grandpa!" or "Howdy, Grandma!" while calling an elderly victim, posing as a family member. After they state their "identity," the con artist will beg for money, claiming they are experiencing financial trouble, and asking the grandparent not to tell anybody about the "gift."

Fraudulent Accidents

Victims of these scams are led to believe that a member of their family has been in an accident or has become very sick and urgently needs money to cover medical expenses.

Charity Scams

Con artists often take advantage of an older person's generosity by recruiting them for fraudulent charitable initiatives. In this scam, the scammer pretends to be collecting money for charity. This usually happens after natural disasters. If you're ever unsure of whether a charity organization is legitimate, Canada Revenue Agency keeps an active list of registered charities.

The Pigeon Drop

In "pigeon drop" scams, the senior is promised a significant quantity of money in exchange for an initial payment of a much lesser amount. Scammers sometimes say they require this first payment to cover administrative costs before releasing the larger quantity promised. This "promised amount" may be the beneficiary's share of an inheritance or a reward.

How Families in Canada Can Help Seniors Avoid Telemarketing Scams

Talk to your elderly loved one about how to spot and prevent senior fraud if you're worried about them falling for a telemarketing scam. Ask them to take their time making purchases over the phone and to avoid paying any costs related to free prizes. Tell them to make sure the person they're talking to is who they say they are, and to contact authorities, such as the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre, right away if they suspect they've been scammed.

To further protect your loved one, consider adding their phone number to Canada's National Do Not Call list and locking down their personal information so scammers can't access it.

You can also hire an in-home caregiver from Senior Home Care by Angels to help your loved one stay safe. During caregiver visits, we can keep an eye out if your loved one is possibly receiving fraudulent calls, provide guidance if your loved one feels they've been targeted and don't know what to do, and keep your family informed of any potential issues.

There are a variety of telemarketing scams that prey on the elderly in Canada, but you can help protect your loved one from becoming a victim by communicating with their home care staff.

Contact your local Senior Home Care by Angels office to learn how we can help your senior loved one.
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