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

Kenny Podmore, here seen at Sidney’s cenotaph in November, says he feels for the veterans after organizers had to cancel an event acknowledging Victory in Europe (VE) Day for the second time in as many years because of COVID-19. (Wolf Depner/News Staff)
North Saanich event marking 75th anniversary of VE-Day cancelled

Sidney resident first planned event for May 9, 2020 moved to May 8 before being cancelled

Individuals and businesses are encouraged to bring their unwanted electronics to Tillicum Centre May 14 to be shredded, recycled or donated. (Black Press Media file photo)
Greater Victoria residents can shred, donate electronics safely

Vancouver Island Better Business Bureau hosts event May 14 at Tillicum Centre

Scheduling popular summer events like the Canada Day celebrations is difficult due to the pandemic. (File - Sooke News Mirror)
Sooke summer events schedule clouded by COVID

Public health guidelines hamper plans

The District of Sooke is looking at new plans to build a fenced dog park at Ponds Park Corridor. (Pixabay.com)
Sooke seeks input on dog park

Public comment welcomed until June 4

Victoria police responded to a vehicle where this dog was found in distress due to the heat after being left inside. (Photo courtesy of VicPD)
Hot cars can be fatal to dogs left inside, Victoria police reminds public after distress calls

Victoria police found two dogs in a car with an internal temperature of 47 C on Friday

Daily confirmed COVID-19 cases reported to B.C. public health, seven-day rolling average in white, to May 12, 2021. (B.C. Centre for Disease Control)
B.C. preparing ‘Restart 2.0’ from COVID-19 as June approaches

Daily infections fall below 500 Friday, down to 387 in hospital

Sinikka Gay Elliott was reported missing on Salt Spring Island on Wednesday, May 12. (Courtesty Salt Spring RCMP)
Body of UBC professor found on Salt Spring Island, no foul play suspected

Sinikka Elliott taught sociology at the university

The first Black judge named to the BC Supreme Court, Selwyn Romilly, was handcuffed at 9:15 a.m. May 14 while walking along the seawall. (YouTube/Screen grab)
Police apologize after wrongly arresting B.C.’s first Black Supreme Court Justice

At 81 years old, the retired judge was handcuffed in public while out for a walk Friday morning

Queen Elizabeth II and Clive Holland, deputy commonwealth president of the Royal Life Saving Society, top left, virtually present Dr. Steve Beerman, top right, with the King Edward VII Cup for his drowning-prevention work. Tanner Gorille and Sarah Downs were honoured with Russell Medals for their life-saving resuscitation. (Buckingham Palace photo)
Queen presents Vancouver Island doctor with award for global drowning prevention

Dr. Steve Beerman receives Royal Life Saving Society’s King Edward VII Cup at virtual ceremony

Former UFV Cascades wrestling coach Arjan Singh Bhullar is now the ONE heavyweight champion after defeating Brandon Vera via TKO in round two on Saturday in Singapore. (ONE Championship)
Former UFV wrestling coach wins MMA championship

Arjan Singh Bhullar captures ONE heavyweight title, first Indian origin fighter to achieve honour

Astra Zeneca vaccine waits for injection in a Feb. 3, 2021 file photo. A Langley man has become the second B.C. resident to suffer a blood clot following an injection. (AP Photo/Frank Augstein)
B.C. man required emergency surgery after AstraZeneca vaccination

Shaun Mulldoon suffered ‘massive blood clot’ after jab

Chilliwack’s Kile Brown, performing as drag queen Hailey Adler, dances and lip syncs in front of hundreds of people during the inaugural Chilliwack Pride Barbecue at the Neighbourhood Learning Centre on Aug. 24, 2019. Monday, May 17 is International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress file)
Unofficial holidays: Here’s what people are celebrating for the week of May 16 to 22

International Day Against Homophobia, Talk Like Yoda Day, Sea Monkey Day all coming up this week

Sinikka Gay Elliott was reported missing on Salt Spring Island on Wednesday, May 12. (Courtesty Salt Spring RCMP)
MISSING: Salt Spring RCMP find woman’s car, still seek Island resident

Sinikka Gay Elliott is 5’3” with a slim build and dark brown short hair

Tagen Marshall of Parksville is looking to raise funds for a new specialized van. (Submitted photo)
Wolf: Parksville’s Tagen Marshall inspires others, aims to invest in himself

VIU honour student with spastic quadriplegia cerebral palsy seeks help achieving big dreams

Most Read