MEDICINE HAT, AB – New numbers from a provincial agency paint a story of rising financial fraud against seniors in Alberta.
According to the Alberta Securities Commission, close to 40 percent of Albertans age 55 and older believe they have been targeted by someone involved with a fraudulent investment.
City of Medicine Hat community resource worker Shantel Ottenbreit works closely with the local senior population and said it’s something she’s seen as well.
“That is very similar to what we’ve heard anecdotally at least here as well,” said Ottenbreit. “That people are being more targeted and they’re finding that they are becoming victims of financial fraud.”
Medicine Hat is at a slightly higher risk than the provincial seniors average, with 15 percent of the city’s residents being 65 years and older.
Ottenbreit said the vast majority of these cases originates online, with scammers trying to prey on those seniors who don’t possess as much computer literacy.
“More so we’re seeing things through email,” she said. “Often they look very legitimate, they might even have emails that look very real like they might be from a Canada Revenue Agency. So, I’d say that’s probably the most prevalent, the second most would be telephone scams.”
Over the years there have been fewer cases of mail financial scams, however Ottenbreit said they do still occur.
To help combat this rise over the past few years, the City offers financial educational programming for seniors to protect themselves and their money.
Which Ottenbreit adds is vital to those who have saved for years for retirement.
“They may really require that to be able to pay for their care or to have the security that they need to be able to afford whatever it is in their life, moving towards long-term retirement and care,” she said. “Unfortunately, when people become victims there often isn't a way to get the money back, so it can be very devastating.”
According to the City, only one in five cases of elder abuse comes to the attention of community agencies or the authorities.
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