By Kevin J. Sabo
For the Advance
As fast as technology changes, so do the ways in which scammers attempt to separate people from their money.
The scams of today can take many different forms.
These can range from callers identifying themselves as being with the Canadian Revenue Agency scaring people into turning over hundreds of dollars to ‘phishing’ emails coming from seemingly legitimate sources that trick an account owner into turning over all their most secure information.
Around 20 seniors in Castor attended a workshop at the Castor Golden Circle put on by Castor & District FCSS, where they learned about these scams, and other threats to be wary of.
Unfortunately, those threats do not just come from afar.
In addition to the scams, the group was also given an introduction in how to identify elder abuse, something which most frequently occurs within the family dynamic.
According to Monica Morrison, executive director of the Golden Circle in Red Deer, elder abuse is “pretty prevalent” in seniors, and can take many forms.
During the day-long session, the attendees heard from four separate presenters who spoke about the basics that seniors can do to keep themselves safe and out of scammers’ crosshairs. The biggest piece of advice given during the day?
“Put your wishes in writing,” said Morrison. “You need to protect yourself. It’s all about you.”
Coronation Lawyer Roger Spady followed up to that by discussing several options for people.
Two documents he recommends everyone have are a personal directive and an enduring power of attorney.
Also known as a living will, a personal directive can best be summarized as a legal document informing anyone about what your wishes would be if you were unable to make the decisions for yourself.
These personal directives typically affect healthcare decisions.
An enduring power of attorney is a legal document which gives the appointee the legal right to make legal and financial decisions on the behalf of the signer, in the event they are unable to make those decisions for themselves.
These documents can be updated as necessary, until such a point that the individual is no longer deemed legally competent.
“It’s important to have these things,” said Spady, “Because the alternative can be expensive and time consuming.”
Castor Alberta Treasury Branch Manager Brianne Bagshaw spoke about the bank’s role in protecting its clients.
One of their roles is asking questions if a client is making unusual financial transactions that are out of character, such as sending large money transfers.
“We ask a lot of questions,” said Bagshaw. “We are not trying to be nosey.”
The final presenter of the day was RCMP Const. Olivier Desy-Marion of the Coronation detachment.
He spoke about resources that people can use if they feel they have been scammed, such as Canada’s National Fraud Centre.
“Banks will never tell you, ‘You have to deal with something in the next five minutes’,” said Desy-Marion.
“There’s a lot of scams out there.”
If you or a loved one are concerned of a case of elder abuse or that they may have fallen for a scam, there are several options, the first of which is contact the RCMP with your concerns.
Second, the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre can be reached online at www.antifraudcentre.ca or by phone at 1-888-495-8501.
Finally, if someone feels that their identifying information may have been inadvertently compromised, the Equifax credit monitoring agency can be contacted at 1-800-465-7166 and a flag can be placed on your account.