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Report: Almost half of seniors in region victims of financial abuse

November 13, 2014, Vancouver, BC - While only six percent of B.C. seniors say they’ve been financially abused, when provided with a list of abusive scenarios, more than 40 per cent reported experiencing abusive behavior, according to a new report by Vancity credit union.

The report, The Invisible Crime: Seniors Financial Abuse, indicates that while seniors may be aware of, and vigilant against, dramatic forms of abuse such as misuse of power of attorney or being forced to change their will, smaller forms of abuse are not understood as such.

The most common experiences of the survey respondents were:

  • 18.7 % had someone borrow their money without their knowledge, or having someone refuse to pay back a loan
  • 18.1% had someone pressure them to give that person money
  • 12.1% had experiencing an unsolicited work scam where someone offers to perform work for a reasonable fee, then after starting the work insists on more than originally agreed before completing the work
  • 10.1% had someone take a valuable possession from their home, either to keep it or to sell it
  • 9.0 % had someone pressure them to buy that person something or to pay a bill for that person
  • 7.9% had someone forge their signature
  • 7.1 % had someone use their credit or debit card without their permission.

In all, 41 per cent of respondents indicated that they had experienced at least one of the abusive situations listed.

The report recommends financial institutions like Vancity need to work with community and government stakeholders to better determine the scope of seniors financial abuse, identify the types of financial abuse seniors most commonly experience and develop solutions to address the problem.

Vancity has created a new workshop to help seniors detect and protect themselves against financial abuse, and is hosting the workshop at various branches throughout November.

There are a number of ways to reduce the possibility of seniors financial abuse and reduce exposure to exploitation. Seniors should:

  • get independent legal advice before signing any documents, especially those involving their home or other property
  • set up auto-deposit government and pension cheques into their bank account and also set up auto-pay for bills to prevent someone intercepting funds and misusing them
  • keep your financial and personal information in a safe place, and never give anyone their bank-card PIN
  • if lending money, write down the person’s name, the amount, and the date of loan; ask the person to sign this document
  • keep a file of their accounts and legal documents, and keep a record of financial transactions and changes to legal documents
  • keep in touch with a variety of friends and family so they don't become isolated.

Vancity is committed to redefining wealth and building healthy communities for its members. An important part of building a healthy community is understanding the needs of members and people living in the communities it serves.


Linda Morris, senior vice-president of Vancity
“The report found that 46 per cent of seniors are concerned about financial abuse. We believe financial institutions have a responsibility to ensure seniors have secure access to the assets they’ve built up over their lifetime.”

Additional Information:

About Vancity

Vancity is a values-based financial co-operative serving the needs of its more than 501,000 member-owners and their communities through 58 branches in Metro Vancouver, the Fraser Valley, Victoria and Squamish. As Canada’s largest community credit union, Vancity uses its $17.5 billion in assets to help improve the financial well-being of its members while at the same time helping to develop healthy communities that are socially, economically and environmentally sustainable.

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For more information:

Lorraine Wilson | Vancity
T: 778-837-0394