Elder fraud is common, but a B.C. notary public says there are ways seniors can protect themselves from fraudsters, whether they are strangers or family members.
"One of the children will come into our office and say, 'Mom's not feeling well, I take care of her, I need to get a power of attorney made for her, she wants me to take care of everything — her banking, her property, her insurance, everything,'" Society of Notaries Public of B.C. and Vancouver Notary President Akash Sablok told The Early Edition.
"And they come in and they want to get a power of attorney made, or they want to transfer the title onto their name."
Under such circumstances, Sablok says notaries public can put measures in place to ensure that a senior's assets can be protected even if they do require help with things like banking.
In light of Elder Abuse Awareness Day, Sablok offered five tips on what people can do to protect loved ones or themselves against elder abuse.
1. Raise awareness about elder fraud
"Talk among your friends, talk among your families and discuss that these are things that can happen."
2. Watch for triggers
"If dad is now all of a sudden, going to the bank and withdrawing $20,000, and two weeks later, he's taking out another $5,000, you start to wonder what's happening here?"
3. Set withdrawal limits
Set up automatic deposit or withdrawals for monthly payments, suggested Sablok.
"They can have one or two separate bank accounts, and I've seen this happen before, where they have a large savings account and a portion of that account is transferred over into a chequing account automatically each month, and that limit there on the chequing account [is] for maybe a $1,000 or $2,000 a month, and [that] protects them."
4. Monitor the senior's needs
"Every six months or a year, go through the accounts, see what they need," Sablok said.
"The situation has changed, maybe now they've moved from their residence into a seniors home — there's other things you can do."
5. Put restrictions on power of attorney
"We can say, 'Ok, two children have to sign together" — this gives one extra layer of protection."
Listen to the interview: How to prevent elder abuse