40 per cent of B.C. seniors financially abused: report

Family bigger fraud threat to seniors than scammers, according to Vancity findings on 'invisible crime'

Financial abuse of seniors most often consists of pressure from family members

Financial abuse of seniors most often consists of pressure from family members

A new study suggests more than 40 per cent of B.C. seniors have been financially abused, usually by someone they know and trust.

The report by Vancity Credit Union and a companion survey of Lower Mainland and Victoria seniors by the Mustel Group indicate the problem is much more pervasive than higher-profile fraud against seniors by unknown scammers.

It cites estimates from other researchers that 55 per cent of cases of seniors fraud or financial abuse are perpetrated by family, friends, neighbours or caregivers and that total losses could run as high as $1.3 billion in B.C.

“The most common are demands for money from family members,” the report says, dubbing it an “invisible crime.”

Seniors financial abuse is when someone uses the senior’s money, property or personal information for their own benefit without authorization.

It’s less often outright theft or scams and more often pressure tactics that result in scenarios that benefit the abuser.

The survey found 19 per cent of southwest B.C. seniors had lost money to someone who never repaid a loan, or who borrowed money without telling the senior at all.

Another 18 per cent said they’d been pressured into giving money.

Common scenarios include younger family members campaigning for an early bequest.

“A lot of older adults are being pressured by their now grown-up children to give them their inheritance early so they don’t have to wait until you die,” said Lorraine Logan, president of the Council of Senior Citizens of B.C.

Sometimes the aim is to avoid loss of family wealth to capital gains tax, she said.

Logan said high home prices in Metro Vancouver are often a reason seniors are urged to contribute to a down payment so children or grandchildren can get into the real estate market.

Such transfers can be completely legitimate, or highly questionable if the senior feels forced to consent or if doubts arise about their ability to legally consent.

The Vancity report says other financial abuse scenarios include:

– A family member or caregiver who shops or pays bills for a senior but spends for themselves as well using the senior’s cash, debit or credit card.

– Redirecting incoming benefits cheques for deposit to the abuser’s account instead of the senior’s.

– Predatory marriage to a senior to gain access to their assets.

Logan said seniors and legal advisers should be on high alert for trouble whenever signing legal agreements that put financial control into someone else’s hands.

“I’ve heard a young person say ‘I’m going to get power of attorney for my dad and then I’m going to go out and buy him a new car so I can drive him around.'”

Few seniors ever blow the whistle on family, Logan said.

“It’s so sensitive,” she said. “If you’re the victim of your son and daughter raping your bank account you probably not going to want to tell anybody.”

Any senior can be at risk, the Vancity report said, but many are even more vulnerable if they lack financial understanding, are isolated without a strong social circle, a newcomer to Canada facing language or cultural barriers, unsure of the value of their home or other assets, or are impaired by medication, stress or exhaustion from medical problems.

The report recommends financial institutions train frontline staff to recognize seniors financial abuse and to help seniors identify abusive scenarios.

Vancity is hosting free public workshops on seniors financial abuse Nov. 19 in Richmond, North Delta, Port Coquitlam and Victoria and Nov. 20 in Vancouver, Burnaby and Abbotsford. For info see https://www.vancity.com/AboutVancity/Events/EachOneTeachOne.

WARNING SIGNS– Senior feels they’re losing control over financial affairs.- Unexpectedly failing to meet a financial obligation for the first time.- Unexpected bank or credit card transactions.- Bank statement is being sent to someone other than the senior.

PREVENTION– Get independent legal advice before signing documents.- Set up bank direct deposits for government and pension accounts and automatic payment of bills.- Keep financial and personal information in a safe place, never give anyone a bank card PIN.- If lending money, write down the person’s name, amount and date and ask the borrower to sign.- Keep in touch with a variety of friends and family to avoid being isolated.– source: Vancity Credit Union

Just Posted

A drone’s-eye view of the Agassiz-Rosedale Bridge. (Screenshot/Shutter Speed Network)
Kent Council advocates for a wider Agassiz-Rosedale Bridge

Council voted unanimously to send letter of concern to transportation ministry

Alexis Paige Simpson has not been in contact with her family in two months. (RCMP photo)
Chilliwack RCMP looking for missing 20-year-old woman

Police say Alexis Paige Simpson has not been in contact with her family in two months

(Maps.Chilliwack.com)
RCMP seek dash-cam footage after Chilliwack road rage incident

Male driving a black pickup stopped and allegedly threatened to punch another driver

Deepak Sharma of Abbotsford has been convicted of the sexual assault of one of his cab passengers in West Vancouver in January 2019.
Former Abbotsford Hindu temple president convicted of sexual assault

Deepak Sharma assaulted a female passenger when he was a cab driver

A blood drive in support of 1-year-old Rielynn Gormley of Agassiz is scheduled for Monday, June 28 at Tzeachten First Nation Community Hall in Chilliwack. Rielynn lives with type 3 von Willebrand disease, which makes it difficult for her to stop bleeding. (Screenshot/Canadian Blood Services)
Upcoming blood drive in honour of Agassiz toddler with rare blood condition

The Gormley family has organized a blood drive in Chilliwack on June 28

The border crossing into the United States is seen during the COVID-19 pandemic in Lacolle, Que. on February 12, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson
VIDEO: Border quarantine to soon lift for fully vaccinated Canadians

Eligible travellers must still take multiple COVID-19 tests

Fans watch the warm-up before Game 6 between the Toronto Maple Leafs and the Montreal Canadiens in NHL playoff hockey action Saturday, May 29, 2021 in Montreal. Quebec’s easing of COVID-19 restrictions will allow 2,500 fans to attend the game for the first time in fourteen months. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
Two-thirds of Canadians say governments shouldn’t lift all COVID-19 restrictions

Poll reports Canadians who gained pandemic weight say they have gained 16 pounds on average

Paul Bernardo is shown in this courtroom sketch during Ontario court proceedings via video link in Napanee, Ont., on October 5, 2018. Teen killer and serial rapist Paul Bernardo is set for a parole hearing today. The designated dangerous offender, has been eligible for full parole for more than three years. Bernardo’s horrific crimes in the 1980s and early 1990s include for kidnapping, torturing and killing Kristen French and Leslie Mahaffy near St. Catharines, Ont. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Greg Banning
Killer rapist Paul Bernardo faces parole hearing today; victim families opposed

Designated dangerous offender has been eligible for full parole for more than three years.

People look over the damage after a tornado touched down in Mascouche, Que., north of Montreal, Monday, June 21, 2021. Dozens of homes were damaged and one death has been confirmed. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
One dead and extensive damage as tornado hits Mascouche, Que., north of Montreal

Damage reported in several parts of the city, and emergency teams dispatched to sectors hardest hit

Chilliwack secondary school’s principal is apologizing after a quote equating graduation with the end of slavery in the U.S. was included in the 2020-2021 yearbook. (Screenshot from submitted SnapChat)
B.C. student’s yearbook quote equates grad to end of slavery; principal cites editing error

Black former student ‘disgusted’ as CSS principal apologizes for what is called an editing error

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good
Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Skeena MLA Ellis Ross. (Photo by Peter Versteege)
BC Liberal leadership candidate condemns ‘senseless violence’ of Okanagan church fires

Skeena MLA Ellis Ross says reconciliation isn’t about revenge for past tragedies

A coroner’s inquest will be taking place at the Capitol Theatre in Port Alberni for the next week. (ELENA RARDON / ALBERNI VALLEY NEWS)
Teen B.C. mom who died following police custody recalled as ‘friend to many’

Police sent Jocelyn George to hospital after intoxication had gone ‘beyond the realm’ of normal detox

Most Read