Provincial Seniors' Week sparks BBB warning of Top 10 Seniors Scams

June 05, 2014

June 5, 2014 - CALGARY, ALBERTA - This week BBB is joining Albertans in recognizing and celebrating senior citizens for their family support, charitable contributions and volunteer work. However, seniors are often the target of scammer's scheming ways, which is why BBB is educating the elderly about how to avoid potential pitfalls of too-good-to-be-true deals. 

Sandra Crozier-McKee, president and CEO of BBB Serving Southern Alberta and East Kootenay, says educating seniors is just as important as honouring them and their contributions to Albertans. "Each day BBB works towards establishing an ethical, trustworthy marketplace," she says. "Part of that involves being proactive in educating seniors as well as people of all ages about common scams, how to avoid them and what to do if they do find themselves scammed."

BBB presents the Top 10 Seniors Scams and how to avoid them:


What it is

How to avoid it

Grandparent scam

Scammers pretending to be grandchildren contact seniors claiming to be in trouble and request money.

Check with family to ensure your grandchildren are safe. Never wire money to someone until you've confirmed their identity.


Seniors receive a phone call out of the blue stating they've won a luxury prize. In order to collect the winnings, they first have to send a small sum of money to pay for processing fees or taxes. Victims wire the money, but never get their "winnings."

Remember, legitimate winnings never have strings attached. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is and be suspicious if you win a contest you didn't enter.

Funeral scam

Unscrupulous funeral home owners will take advantage of people in their time of grief and vastly overcharge for caskets, services or unnecessary items while the victim is vulnerable.

Plan and pay for your funeral in advance - but do your research and bring a friend with you.

Bereavement scam

Scammers scour the obituaries and contact victims who recently lost a loved-one claiming the deceased had unpaid bills or debts that must be paid right away.

Arrange to have a trusted family member or friend handle all financial matters in the days following the loss of a loved one.

Sweetheart scam

While romancing the victim and earning their trust, the scammer may gain access to personal and financial information. When the scam is over, the victim is left broke and broken-hearted.

Keep your personal and financial documents locked at home in a safe place - do not carry them with you and do not share them with anyone. Avoid making rash, emotional decisions.

Affinity fraud

Fraudsters use groups of friends, colleagues, religious groups, ethnic groups or other people who inherently trust one another to build support for the next "great investment." This investment turns out to be a fraud and leaves a trail of broken relationships and bank accounts behind.

Never accept a verbal agreement and never sign a document before reading it carefully.


Aggressive sales people
use high-pressure sales tactics to intimidate seniors into buying things they don't need.

If you're at the door or on the phone with a high-pressure sales person and you're uncomfortable - hang up or close the door. If you feel threatened, call the police.

Fly-by-night contractor

The scammer approaches the homeowner saying they noticed their roof (or some other feature) needs repair and that, since they're in the area, they can give the homeowner a great deal if they give a deposit today. After taking the deposit, the scammer disappears along with the homeowner's money.

When hiring a contractor to work on your home, get three written estimates, check references and research your rights regarding contracts and cooling-off periods.

Inheritance scam

A fraudster contacts victims out of the blue posing as a lawyer, banker or official to announce they are the beneficiary of a wealthy distant relative who has died overseas. There is a fee to claim the large inheritance. Once the victim wires the fee, the scammer disappears.

Check with family and relatives to confirm that a loved one has in fact passed and left an inheritance. Also check with your own lawyer before proceeding.

Pump and dump scam A scheme that attempts to boost the price of a stock through recommendations based on false, misleading or greatly exaggerated statements. The perpetrators sell their stock after the hype has led to a higher share price leaving victims with worthless stock. Consult with your financial advisor or lawyer before committing to a financial investment. You shouldn't be pressured to make a monetary decision. 


 For more consumer tips, visit 

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Media contact:

Leah Brownridge
Marketing and Communication Coordinator, BBB

About BBB:

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