In recognition of World Elder Abuse Awareness Day, BBB Urges Citizens to Report Elder Abuse

June 12, 2017

Every year, senior citizens are targeted by con artists. Many of these victims don’t ask for help until it is too late! June 15 is World Elder Abuse Awareness Day (WEAAD) and BBB Serving Western Ontario is marking the occasion by calling attention to the many ways the elderly are victimized in Canada, and throughout the world.

With an increased aging population, more attention now needs to be devoted to elder abuse. BBB receives hundreds of phone calls each year from senior citizens who have been targeted or victimized by scammers. These can range from common scams such as bogus travel deals or lottery schemes to outright financial fraud.

“Scams are a form of financial abuse. Scammers create an expectation of trust that results in financial loss and considerable distress, especially to older people who fall victim,” said Linda Smith, CEO of BBB Serving Western Ontario. “Awareness and education are the best tools we have in the fight against fraud.”

One of the more common types of abuse that BBB often hears about is financial fraud.

Financial elder abuse occurs when seniors’ banking or credit accounts are exploited by scammers who take advantage of the vulnerabilities sometimes associated with age. What makes the crime particularly frightening is that in most cases the abuse is carried out by someone the senior knows, such as a family member, caregiver or friend.

Many victims do not realize they have been taken advantage of. Or if they do know, they may not want to tell anyone due to embarrassment or fear of losing what independence they may have.

Unfortunately financial elder abuse can be difficult to identify. If often takes a caring family member, friend or caregiver to recognize that fraud has occurred. These are some signs to look for:

  • The person receives lots of junk mail (“sweepstakes” offers, etc.) and gets frequent calls from people offering valuable awards or asking for charitable donations.
  • The person has written checks or made withdrawals for escalating amounts of money to unfamiliar, out-of-state companies.
  • The person begins to act very secretively about phone calls.
  • The person is having sudden problems paying bills or buying food or other necessities.

What You Can Do To Help:

  • Emphasize the criminal nature of telemarketing fraud and help the person learn how to identify it.
  • Encourage the person to hang up on telephone solicitations that seem suspicious.
  • Have a calm discussion about the best way to handle the person’s finances in the future. If he or she seems to be truly incompetent, seek legal advice.
  • Help the person change his or her phone number, if necessary, and get on the Do-Not-Call list at 

Find out more about scams and sign up for scam alerts at BBB Scam Stopper ( For tips you can trust, visit and for the latest, check out our blog, like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter.