The mission of the Better Business Bureau is to be the leader in advancing marketplace trust. Part of that trust is ensuring everyone has access to critical information.
“We also work tirelessly to educate consumers and businesses on how to protect themselves,” said Rosalind Scott, president and CEO of Better Business Bureau Vancouver Island, during a session on elder abuse awareness at the Monterey Recreation Centre. “Consumers can contact us at any time.”
Calls from concerned caregivers are not uncommon for the Better Business Bureau.
“Many of the calls that we get are from seniors and caregivers checking out if an opportunity or a business is a scam or a fraud,” Scott said. “The Better Business Bureau is most often contacted when a senior is targeted with either financial fraud or identity theft.”
There are two kinds of scammers, she said, those you know and strangers.
“While some elder abuse is done by faceless scam artists, unfortunately most often elder abuse happens to a senior by somebody they know – a family member, a caregiver or a friend – and that is the tremendously sad news,” she said. “Many victims don’t even realize they’ve been taken advantage of or when they do, they are so embarrassed and humiliated that they don’t want to tell anybody, especially if it’s a family member or somebody they really trust.”
Some seniors are duped into financial decisions by a trusted person who swindles them to give up money, property or personal information.
“In some instances seniors have been tricked into signing over their own home, making large investments or donating large sums of money,” Scott said. “Often scammers play upon the emotional heartstrings of the elderly, use confusing tactics, or convince the senior that they must take some action for their own well-being.”
The ever-popular unsolicited home repair work continues to hit seniors.
“We see this all the time,” Scott said. “My dad paid nearly $1,000 to a fraudster … when I looked at the bill and the breakdown, he had his ‘downspouts polished’.”
Then there are those that come straight to the front door with aggressive sales tactics; telemarketing, mail fraud and phishing, and those where a senior is told ‘personal information is required’.
“Always, whether you’re a senior or not, be very careful who you give your personal information to. You need to know what they’re going to do with it,” Scott said.
Other panelists at the event organized by the Community Response Network included representatives from Island Health, Oak Bay Police and the Vancouver Island office of the Public Guardian and Trustee of British Columbia.
To learn more about the scams reported visit bbb.org/vancouver-island/.