The Canadian Securities Administrators marked World Elder Abuse Awareness Day on June 15 by urging Canadians to be aware of, and report, financial abuse involving seniors.

Elder abuse relating to finances may appear in a variety of forms: an investment offered to a senior might be an outright fraud, or it could be a legitimate investment product that is unsuitable for the senior’s circumstances. Problems involving securities can also include theft of funds or products sold by unregistered sales representatives.

“Financial losses through investment fraud and unsuitable investments can be devastating for anyone,” Jean St-Gelais, says CSA chair. “However, seniors living on a fixed income or limited savings have a more difficult time recovering from financial loss.”

A 2007 CSA study found that victims of investment fraud experience negative effects on their physical and mental health. Fraud victims in the study reported higher stress levels, increased feelings or displays of anger, depression, and feelings of extreme loss or isolation, as well as physical effects such as panic or anxiety attacks.

The CSA encourages all seniors to investigate every investment opportunity before they give someone their money. Seniors should also consider seeking out independent, third party advice if they are unsure about an investment.

The CSA urges anyone who suspects or knows of an investment fraud to report it to their local securities regulator. Reporting potential scams may help prevent other seniors from becoming victims of investment fraud.

Information about investing that can help seniors, their families, and their caregivers recognize and avoid investment scams is available on the CSA website.