Many Canadians unaware of signs of financial elder abuse

THE Canadian Securities Administrators (CSA) on Tuesday published results of a new survey that found nearly 29 per cent of Canadians know a victim of financial elder abuse, while 42 per cent said they could not recognize the signs of financial abuse and only 47 per cent knew where to report cases of abuse.

The CSA and its members are providing resources and holding events to raise awareness of financial elder abuse to mark World Elder Abuse Awareness Day (WEAAD) on June 15.  Financial abuse is the most common form of elder abuse, and it typically occurs over an extended period of time. Financial abuse of older adults can include the use and/or control of the individual’s money or investments through undue pressure, illegal or unauthorized acts.

“As Canada’s population ages, it is extremely important that we all learn how to recognize the warning signs of financial abuse and take proactive steps to check in with the older adults in our lives,” said Louis Morisset, CSA Chair and President and CEO of the Autorité des marchés financiers. “Older Canadians are particularly susceptible to financial exploitation and fraud. Checking in regularly with the older adults in our lives about their finances – no matter their financial situation – is critical to raise awareness of financial abuse and ultimately help prevent it.”

Other findings from the survey include:

  • Eighty-one per cent of Canadians recognize that when older adults are financially abused, it’s usually by someone close to them.
  • Among Canadians who have an older adult in their life:
    • 91 per cent face perceived barrier(s) that prevent them from discussing financial matters.
    • The most common barriers are the belief that their loved one has their finances under control (38 per cent) and the belief that it’s not their place to talk about finances (37 per cent). About one-third (30 per cent) say that finances don’t come up in conversation.
    • 61 per cent believe that the older adult(s) would open up if they were victim to financial abuse.
    • 73 per cent say that they know who manages the finances for the older adult.

Canadians can take action and prevent financial abuse of older adults by:

  • Talking about their financial matters with them.
  • Learning to recognize and avoid investment scams. Visit the CSA website to find important information and helpful resources about fraud prevention.
  • Taking time to investigate every investment opportunity or sales pitch, as well as the person promoting the investment, before handing over money. If you’re unsure about an investment, consider seeking independent, third-party advice.
  • Reporting investment fraud to their provincial or territorial securities regulator. Reporting potential scams may help prevent other seniors from becoming victims of investment fraud.

Across Canada, the CSA and its members are working on various initiatives throughout the month of June to help Canadians detect, prevent and respond to the financial abuse of seniors.

In British Columbia, the B.C. Securities Commission (BCSC) believes it’s important for everyone to know how to recognize, reject and report elder financial abuse. The BCSC is participating in WEAAD with a digital campaign encouraging people to #RejectFinancialAbuse. The campaign includes a video addressing the impact that financial abuse and investment fraud can have on older adults in B.C. The video was made in partnership with the Office of the Seniors Advocate in B.C. and is available for viewing on the Elder Financial Abuse page on

Other campaign elements include blog posts, an online newsletter issue, and social media posts using the hashtag #RejectFinancialAbuse throughout June, highlighting WEAAD and elder financial abuse.