Adèle Manseau | Desjardins Group
Fake contests, questionable charities, phone scams... there are so many ways that people fall victim to financial fraud or abuse. And what's worse, the source is often unexpected: a friend or family member. This type of financial exploitation is even more shocking because of the relationships of trust that usually exists in these cases. Sadly, financial exploitation is the most common1 form of elder abuse.
Luce Préfontaine, from Caisse Desjardins des Mille-Iles, tells the story of one of her clients, an 85-year-old woman.
"I'd enjoyed a good relationship with her for a long time. But all of a sudden, things changed. When I tried to reach call her, her daughter would always answer and say that the two of them would be coming in to sign a power of attorney. I could never get through to my client and I felt that something wasn't right. The client finally called me and said that she was worried because she was feeling pressured to sign the power of attorney. The woman was very anxious so we set up a meeting. A few days later, she took the bus to the Caisse in the bitter cold. During our meeting, she explained that she had no intention of granting her daughter power of attorney. I reassured her and put a note in her file to prevent that from happening."
This is a good example of how vulnerable the elderly are to pressure or blackmail from their loved ones. In this case, the client had a good relationship with her advisor so she was right to reach out, but that's not always what happens.
Prevention is always the best way to protect yourself. You should be on high alert if someone:
- Blackmails you for money
- Steals your money or belongings
- Pressures you to add them to your will
- Threatens or pressures you to lend them money
- Forces you to sell your belongings or cash in your investments
- Defrauds you (i.e., credit card, email, identity theft)
If you're concerned, talk to someone:
- At your financial institution
- You trust, such as a loved one, social worker or police officer
- At Quebec's elder abuse hotline, Ligne Aide Abus Aînés, by calling 1-888-489-2287
- At Elder Abuse Ontario by calling 1-866-299-1011
Ms. Préfontaine did the right thing. She recognized the signs, offered her support and provided information. "I told the lady about organizations that could help her, such as DIRA Laval and our local CLSC. I didn't want her to take the bus back in such cold weather, so I drove her home."
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