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Seniors: 11 Jul 2008
Canadian Seniors Lose $6 Million Annually to Fraudulent Marketing and Financial Scams
Capital One joins forces with SeniorBusters to help seniors spot fraud and fight back
|Credit: Info4 Security|
TORONTO, July 10 /CNW Telbec/ - According to the most recent data from SeniorBusters, thousands of elderly Canadians are victimized by financial fraud each year. Mail, telephone and online scams have left many seniors with significant monetary losses, often depleting their life-savings.
Capital One Canada has joined forces with SeniorBusters to raise awareness about the prevalence of these crimes and help educate and protect seniors from fraud.
"Education and helping to build a heightened awareness about these kinds of crimes is critical to protecting older citizens in our communities and preventing fraud," said Pam Girardo, spokesperson for Capital One Canada.
"We are delighted to see that we have helped SeniorBusters expand their efforts to educate seniors about the real dangers lurking in their own communities. We hope this knowledge will empower seniors and prevent them from falling victim to these predators."
Capital One's financial support to SeniorBusters is helping them purchase much needed equipment to enable expanded outreach efforts. SeniorBusters is the volunteer component of PhoneBusters, the Canadian Anti-Fraud Call Centre jointly run by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP), the Ontario Provincial Police, and the Competition Bureau Canada. SeniorBusters, which is staffed by retired seniors who volunteer to help other seniors, uses a hands-on approach and direct community outreach.
"We see that the fraudsters prey on the fact that seniors are often lonely, lacking family support, and are sometimes additionally vulnerable as a result of Alzheimer's or similarly impairing illnesses," said Sgt. Debbie Bell, an Ontario Provincial Police Officer with SeniorBusters. "The fact that our volunteers are themselves seniors helps break down barriers when communicating with victims. This approach generally makes seniors more comfortable with reporting the crime and it facilitates raising awareness of the many scams out there."
Fraudsters are increasingly innovative, employing a broad range of scams to rip-off seniors. Identity theft topped the list in 2007 with a reported $6,421,952 lost, followed by the "Nigerian Letter" scam (where a fictitious high-ranking person in a foreign country tries to enlist help moving a large sum of money out of their country into the victim's bank account) which claimed $4,935,030, investment scams, which accounted for an additional $3,553,320 lost, and scams offering phony prizes, which generated losses of $3,506,289.
"The number of scams designed to take advantage of consumers, particularly seniors, is increasing," added Girardo. "Seniors and others can help protect themselves from financial fraud by carefully protecting their personal information including credit card, bank account and Social Insurance Numbers."
Age Number of (Annual) Average (Annual) Total
Range Victims (CND/US) Loss Per Victim Loss For Age Range
50-59 1680 $5,116.42 $8,595,593.57
60-69 990 $7,737.58 $7,660,202.49
70-79 875 $7,918.20 $6,928,425.82
80-89 589 $9,351.74 $5,508,172.27
90-99 64 $29,228.98 $1,870,654.67
Phonebusters also stresses that while identity theft and other forms of financial fraud affect individuals, there is also an impact on government, business, and the general public. The challenge of thwarting this type of crime is further complicated by the fact that identity theft is often coordinated nationally and/or internationally. In light of this, the RCMP is working with other law enforcement agencies, other sections of the Government of Canada, the provinces, territories and private industry to fight this growing trend. Individual Canadians are urged to be proactive in fighting identity fraud.
"Everyone must be vigilant in protecting themselves against loss of their personal and financial information," said Cpl. Louis Robertson, an RCMP officer with PhoneBusters.
Capital One Canada also offers tips for seniors to help guard against identity theft and fraud:
- Don't be afraid to say 'no'
- Be careful when you speak to telemarketers - hang up if you feel uncomfortable or do not trust the caller.
- Don't give in to high-pressure sales tactics.
- Don't reveal your credit card, bank account or Social Insurance Numbers to unfamiliar companies or people.
- Do your own research on charities and other solicitors.
- It is your money - never be afraid to ask where it is going.
- Get details of all deals in writing and never sign contracts that have blank lines or spaces in them.
- If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
If you suspect or know you are a victim of fraudulent scams (including: telemarketing fraud, advanced fee fraud, and identity theft) contact your local police service, report fraud online through www.recol.ca or call The Canadian Anti-Fraud Call Centre (formerly PhoneBusters) at 1-888-495-8501.
For a copy of Capital One's Guide to Protecting Yourself from Identity Theft, visit www.capitalone.ca/fraud.
About Capital One Canada:
Located in Toronto, Ontario, Capital One has offered Canadian consumers a range of competitive MasterCard(R) credit cards since 1996, when the company first introduced the Platinum MasterCard(R) in Canada. Capital One Canada is a division of Capital One Bank, a subsidiary of Capital One Financial Corporation of McLean, Virginia (NYSE: COF).
About PhoneBusters and SeniorBusters (www. phonebusters.com)
The Canadian Anti-Fraud Call Centre (CAFCC) was established in January 1993 by the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) as Project PhoneBusters and is today jointly operated by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, the OPP and the Competition Bureau Canada. CAFCC is a national call centre where Canadians can report mass marketing fraud and identity theft complaints. SeniorBusters presently consists of more than 60 volunteer members over the age of 50. These volunteer members work to reduce the level of fraudulent telemarketing against seniors. They contact family members, local police agencies, elder abuse committees, and will provide the seniors with the necessary tools to effectively fight this crime.
For further information:
Capital One Canada: Pam Girardo, 416 549-2783, firstname.lastname@example.org;
PhoneBusters: RCMP Cpl. Louis Robertson, (705) 494-3182;
SeniorBusters: Ontario Provincial Police Sgt. Debbie Bell, (705) 494-3628
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