For immediate release
Toronto, ON, March 21, 2016 – Have you ever had someone put pressure on you to give them money? Or had someone forged your signature on cheques or legal documents? If you answered yes, you may be a victim of financial abuse.
March is Fraud Prevention Month, and the Canadian Bankers Association (CBA) is providing tips and information to help consumers avoid becoming a victim of financial abuse.
Financial abuse occurs when someone tries to take or control what belongs to you for their own benefit, not yours. This can include your money, your property, or your personal information. Unfortunately, a financial abuser can be a trusted person in your life: a spouse, adult child, grand child or other family member, caregiver, friend or neighbour. Seniors can be vulnerable to this type of abuse.
“Banks are very aware of the growing incidence of financial abuse and understand they play an important role in raising awareness on the issue, including providing information about what their clients can do to protect themselves from financial abuse,” said Maura Drew-Lytle, Director, Media Relations and Communications at the Canadian Bankers Association. “It is important that consumers are aware of how financial abuse happens and recognize the signs to avoid becoming a victim.”
There are a number of actions seniors can take to protect themselves from financial abuse, including trying to do as many financial transactions by yourself, saying no when someone pressures you for money and understanding every document you sign. There are also tools you can use, such as a joint account or Power of Attorney, but you must make sure it is right for you.
Opening a joint account, or combining existing accounts with a family member or caregiver can make it easy to get help with paying bills, avoiding probate fees when estate planning and managing shared expenses.
While joint accounts can be helpful if the other person is trustworthy and follows your wishes, there are some things to keep in mind before opening a joint account. Check out our infographic on Joint Accounts for more information.
Powers of Attorney
A Power of Attorney (POA) is a legal document that gives someone else the legal right to act on your behalf. A POA can be for property, finances or health reasons. This person is usually a trusted family member or friend who will act as an attorney for you, not a lawyer. If you are thinking about a POA you should seek legal advice before making any decisions.
For more information on financial abuse and resources on where to get help visit www.cba.ca/financial-abuse-what-you-need-to-know-and-where-to-get-help.
Seniors’ groups can also book a free Your Money Seniors seminar. The Your Money Seniors program is available to seniors’ groups across the country and trained bankers volunteer their time to discuss financial abuse, financial fraud and cash management in retirement.
Want more fraud prevention tips and resources? The CBA is issuing tips and information through Twitter (@CdnBankers) and its website www.cba.ca throughout the month of March. You can also subscribe to our Fraud Prevention Tips .
The CBA is a member of the Fraud Prevention Forum. The Forum is comprised of a concerned group of private sector firms, consumer and volunteer groups, government agencies and law enforcement organizations, who are committed to fighting fraud aimed at consumers and businesses. Through its partners, the Forum, which is chaired by the Competition Bureau, works to prevent Canadians from becoming victims of fraud by educating them on how to "Recognize it. Reject it. Report it."
About the Canadian Bankers Association
The Canadian Bankers Association works on behalf of 59 domestic banks, foreign bank subsidiaries and foreign bank branches operating in Canada and their 280,000 employees. The CBA advocates for effective public policies that contribute to a sound, successful banking system that benefits Canadians and Canada’s economy. The Association also promotes financial literacy to help Canadians make informed financial decisions and works with banks and law enforcement to help protect customers against financial crime and promote fraud awareness. www.cba.ca.