senior man giving credit card details on the phone

Older investors in Alberta report a higher incidence of suspected investment fraud, and concern about their financial security, according to the results of the Alberta Securities Commission’s (ASC) annual Investor Index study released on Wednesday.

The study found that more than a third (36%) of investors aged 55 or older said they believe they’ve been approached with a possible investment fraud. This is notably higher than the reported rate for the population overall. Only about one quarter (26%) of investors in the province reported they may have been targeted for fraud.

“This data is not surprising to us,” says Alison Trollope, director of communications and investor education at the ASC, in a statement. “Seniors have often spent a lifetime building retirement funds. They may own their home or have a pension. Scam artists go where the money is.”

The study also found that more than half of older investors don’t talk to family or friends about their finances. Which could leave them vulnerable to abuse. And, it notes that

This, and other signs of potential vulnerability, are most prevalent among women, respondents that report low financial literacy, and those with little savings, the study found.

In addition to the heightened concern about fraud, almost one-third (29%) of older investors expressed worries that they won’t have enough money to last them through retirement, and, 16% said they will likely have to turn to family for financial support.

Retirement anxiety is more prevalent in rural areas. Only 7% of investors in rural areas reported feeling “totally financially secure,” compared to 20% and 22% in Edmonton and Calgary, respectively.

“The pressure to secure a comfortable retirement in a short period of time or to ‘leave something for the kids’ can cause people to rush into investing decisions that are too good to be true,” says Trollope. “We want to empower seniors to make wise investing decisions by taking important but easy steps like checking registration of anyone offering an investment and learning the red flags of investment fraud such as high rates of return with low or no risk.”

The survey was conducted by Innovative Research Group, Inc. for the ASC between May 11 and 18; with 1,599 Alberta residents, including 750 who are aged 55 or older.