Personal finance topics of special interest to the caregiver.

Caregiver: You are a financial fraudster’s target

Caregiver: You are a financial fraudster’s target


At a time when your caregiving is increasing, you may find that friends and even strangers will reach out to help.

Yet, for a few, your stress is their opportunity to target you. This is undoubtedly cowardly – but also unfortunately true. Your exhaustion is a financial fraudster’s opportunity.

The increasing sophistication of scammers combined with your increased stress as a caregiver means that you are at risk of being a victim of a financial deception. Your best defense is awareness of both your own vulnerability and the techniques of a scammer.

Under normal circumstances you would never have disclosed financial information but these are unusual times for you. Your desire or need for assistance from someone who is capable, confident and kind can be a scammer’s golden opportunity.

Here’s how you can defend against targeting.

1. Do not make major or irreversible financial decisions at this time:

Acknowledge that you are tired and likely unable to make fully informed decisions. You may not have the time or energy to do the necessary research and no one should pressure you to make a decision. Often taking no action is the best option under these circumstances.

2. If a decision is needed, obtain a second or even a third professional opinion:

If there is a financial or contractual necessity to make a major financial decision, do not do it alone and do not accept only one opinion. Financial professionals will review a third party’s recommendation and provide you with an opinion. Although your time is scarce, this approach will help ensure that you are making the best decision possible. Don’t let anyone talk you out of doing your due diligence.

3. This is not the time to try something new:

Do not place money into a financial instrument that you either have never previously considered or you do not fully understand. Stick with what you know.

4. Understand the exit strategy:

Do not lock money into anything that is costly to exit and difficult to liquidate. You never know when circumstances will change, requiring you to access your money.

5. Recognize isolation:

Be wary of new helpful friends – especially those who seem to be “one of you.” A fraudster knows how to identify a vulnerable person who may be lonely, exhausted or frightened and they will offer a shoulder to lean on. Sometimes these relationships will be romantic and are known as “sweetheart scams.” Sometimes these relationships will be about shared characteristics such as place of birth or faith and are known as “affinity scams.” Trusted friendships take a long time to build.

6. Acknowledge your increasing anxiety about running out of money:

You may be concerned about future costs such as long-term care. Do not let someone frighten you into thinking that you need to take immediate financial action. Your increased sensitivity about your financial future may mean you’re vulnerable to advice from strangers, especially those who seem to have an easy solution.

7. Visit the professional in his or office:

Although communications and transactions are increasingly mobile, a financial professional will have a “bricks and mortar” office. Although not foolproof, a visit to their office is one validation.

8. Let Google be your friend:

Google their name and their organization and read any reviews or news articles referencing these names. Check if they have been disciplined through the Canadian Securities Administrator’s website. In the U.S., follow the instructions for both Federal and State disciplinary information through the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission website.
This will not detect every financial fraudster but it’s a good start.

9. Follow your instincts:

Don’t defer your concerns. Voice them to a trusted friend.

To read more from financial adviser Lee Anne Davies, go to

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Lee Anne Davies

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