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‘Do not be afraid to ask questions’: Elder Abuse Awareness Day sheds light on scams

Scams are reported several times a week, local police say

There are a number of ways to get swindled out of your hard-earned money, but thankfully, there are just as many ways to keep yourself safe.

In light of World Elder Abuse Awareness Day on June 15, the Better Business Bureau (BBB) issued a release detailing scams that frequently target seniors and older adults.

There are three typical types of scams that target the older population: the grandparents scam, bogus sweepstakes and tech support.

In the grandparents scam, the scammer contacts a grandparent claiming to be their grandchild that has either gone to jail or is otherwise in a dire situation and they need money wired to them. A bogus sweepstakes scam is rather common scam where the perpetrators will try to get money and vital personal information by saying the victim won a big cash prize and they can claim it once they pay their taxes.

RELATED: Agassiz woman warns of credit card scams

Tech support scams often start with a phone call or a pop-up online ad claiming to be a tech support representative from Google or Microsoft. The tech support scammer claims there’s a problem with your computer and will ask the victim to install software to gain remote access and offer to fix the alleged problem for a fee. While on your computer, they might access critical personal information to steal your identity.

In the Agassiz-Harrison area, Sgt. Mike Sargent of the Agassiz RCMP said the local police get several calls a week from concerned citizens regarding possible scams. Though the elderly as a whole are frequent targets of potential predatory scams, Sargent said the age group of the people targeted tends to be more spread out.

In the event someone has been scammed out of their money, Sargent said the local police will generate a file to assist the victim in the re-compensation process.

RELATED: Better Business Bureau warns online puppy scams surging during COVID-19 pandemic

“Depending on the nature of the scam or fraud, an investigation may be initiated,” Sargent said in an e-mail to the Observer. “These types of investigations can be complicated as the scammers often are from outside the country.”

If someone calls in to report suspicious activity, police are available to advise if what the person has encountered is a scam or not. Sargent often guides them to report it to the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre at 1-888-495-8501. If it’s something the RCMP haven’t encountered before, the RCMP may create a police file.

While door-to-door scams aren’t common in the area, Sargent advised caution.

“Anyone going door-to door should have proper identification and a plausible explanation of why they are at your door,” Sargent said. “Do not be afraid to ask questions and don’t be fooled by aggressive tactics often used by individuals to get your personal information or enter your house.”

Sargent added the local RCMP has literature available at the detachment to provide further information about scams and fraud.

“If you are unsure about a phone call, email, text or door-to-door canvasser please do not hesitate to contact your local RCMP detachment before providing any information.”

The BBB recommends doing research before acting on anything that could be considered a scam. Make sure you verify who you’re really talking to by asking questions it would be difficult for imposters to answer correctly.

If you don’t recognize a phone number, don’t hesitate to let the call go to voice mail. Remember that government agencies and legitimate sweepstakes and lottery companies will never ask you to wire money.

Under no circumstances should you give control of your computer over to anyone who contacts you; reserve this for only people you know you can trust.

In addition to contacting the local police, if you see suspicious charges, contact your bank or credit card company to see if charges can be reversed. You can also report fraud to the BBB at BBB.org and Seniors First B.C. at info@seniorsfirstbc.ca.

The International Network for the Prevention of Elder Abuse (INPEA) and the World Health Organization (WHO) designated June 15 as World Elder Abuse Awareness Day. According to a 2015 study from the National Initiative for the Care of the Elderly in Canada states about eight per cent (approximately 695,000) of elders suffer some form of abuse, be it physical, sexual, psychological, emotional, financial or neglect.


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