Fraud prevention for seniors with John Yu

This month’s webinar focuses on fraud prevention for seniors and the importance of fraud awareness and financial literacy for seniors. Financial literacy is more than just about understanding numbers and managing your finances. In today's digital era, it also encompasses protecting oneself from scams and frauds. If you would like to watch this webinar click here.

Our expert speaker
John Yu, is a Chartered Professional Accountant with over 30 years of dedicated service with TD Bank. He possesses a wealth of experience in banking and finance. He has also volunteered with organizations like the Canadian Bankers Association, focusing on promoting financial literacy across all age groups, from high school students to senior citizens. Through his lecture series at Ryerson University and the Fellow Life Management Institute, Yu is dedicated to financial education.

Financial fraud, the stats
John discussed the topic of financial scams targeting seniors and the ways to identify and protect oneself against them. "Financial fraud is any kind of crime that targets your money through your bank account, credit cards, or investment accounts. Think of it as a modern-day equivalent of pickpockets,” said Yu.

According to John "35 percent of Canadians have been victims of financial fraud, and 44 percent know someone who's been a victim." He further emphasized the vulnerability of seniors, stating that they are more at risk because many have accumulated savings over the years, making them prime targets. This is further compounded by the fact that some seniors may be less experienced with modern technology. This could lead them to be more trusting or less likely to question something suspicious.

Types of fraud and scams
Identity theft: "Identity theft is the main gateway to many forms of financial fraud. Someone who steals your information can access your bank accounts, government benefits, and just about any area of your life," John explained, highlighting the critical importance of safeguarding one's personal information.

“Phishing” and “vishing”: Be aware of the dangers of fraudulent emails and voicemails that appear to come from legitimate organizations. John recalled a personal anecdote, saying, "before we started this seminar, Heidi (the webinar hostess) told me a story about her opening a credit card account with TD Bank. Immediately after she finished with the bank, she got an email from someone showing exactly a TD logo saying they had some problem with her account. The branch confirmed it was fraud."

Others: John also advised us to be vigilant when it comes to romance scams, grandparent scams, and the rising menace of gift card and prepaid card scams. Drawing from personal stories and experiences, he effectively conveyed the reach and impact of these scams.

How to protect yourself
Hang up on suspicious calls and notify the police: "Remember, neither your bank nor a police investigator will ever request that you assist in an undercover investigation or ask you to withdraw money from your account,” said Yu. Ask questions while never providing personal information without first ensuring the legitimacy of the request.

Never use your birth date as a password:
Fraudsters are experts in guessing these common combinations. “Your personal information is like the key to your financial house. Protect it,” said Yu. It’s clear that the digital age, while offering us so many conveniences, also presents a minefield of risks so equip yourself with the right knowledge so your financial information is as secure as possible.

Why do fraudsters single out seniors?
Seniors are often perceived as more trusting and less tech-savvy. This perception, combined with the fact that many seniors have nest eggs, makes them attractive targets for scammers.

“If it's too good to be true, it probably is. And in today’s digital world, trust should be earned, not given away freely,” added Yu. He also spoke about the importance of awareness and proactivity. He mentioned a tale of the couple from BC, saying, "Once your PIN is known, even by the closest of your kin, the responsibility falls on you. So guard it like you would your life."

Promote scam awareness, even if you’ve been a victim
Be vigilant and cautious and if something feels off, trust your gut feeling. It’s vital to maintain an open dialogue about these issues even if you've been a victim of a scam or even just targeted. Share your story, by doing so you help raise awareness and your cautionary tale might just prevent someone else from becoming a victim. If you would like to watch this webinar click here.

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