Taking precautions to avoid scams and frauds is another way to protect your assets against financial abuse. Hustlers are constantly coming up with new scams to deceive elderly people. It is important to never respond to e-mail, phone or door-to-door offers from people or groups you do not know. Most often, if an offer seems too good to be true, one can assume it is. Protect your personal information–reputable organizations will not e-mail, write or call and ask you to confirm information about your bank account or financial affairs. Financial abuse is illegal and/or unauthorized use of your money or property, or pressure on you for use of your money or property.
Unfortunately and sadly, abusers are often people in positions of power in your life, such as a family member, caregiver or someone you live with. If you think you may be the victim of financial abuse, a fraud or a scam, do not feel ashamed and you are not at fault–many people are in the same situation and it is important you do not stay silent. Tell someone you trust about what is going on and how you are being treated and take precautions. If you do not feel you can trust anyone or do not feel comfortable talking to someone you know, you can report financial abuse and/or fraud to the police.
The federal government has several benefit programs for individuals over 65 who have lived in Canada for over 10 years. However, you must apply for Old Age Security (OAS), Guaranteed Income Supplement (GIS), Spouse’s Allowance, Canada’s Pension Plan (CPP) and other federal programs. You will not receive them automatically! Because many programs use your income tax return to decide if you are eligible, you should file a tax return by April 30 each year. This will also allow you to claim a GST rebate and other refundable tax credits. Remember to notify Service Canada if anything changes in your life. For example, if you are receiving OAS, GIS, the Allowance or CPP and you move or your situation changes, for example, if your spouse passes away.
It’s time to quit gambling for your health and happiness. The Internet has opened up countless new ways to lose your money and the incidence of problem gambling has risen dramatically. Gambling is a very lonely condition and provides you with no genuine pleasure. Gamblers often experience a life of anxiety, fear, panic and mental and physical anguish. The delusion that gambling is pleasurable is a delusion—salvation does not lie in gambling—it is causing the misery. Research states that the divorce rate among problem gamblers is twice the rate and suicide rate is twenty times higher. If we continue to gamble, our chemical levels in the brain have been reset and we no longer derive pleasure from normal everyday experiences-it gives the illusion of a high.
Stop believing that gambling is some sort of reward you deserve for all your hard work. It is a misguided belief that it gives you genuine pleasure. Recognize the trap for what it is and do something else with your money. Remember, addiction causes us to seek relief from stress in the very thing that’s causing us stress—vicious circle. No gambler is in control and they never show a sign of happiness or having a good time. You will enjoy your life so much more as a non-gambler. In sum, there are a multitude of reasons why you should quit gambling but here are an important few: more self-respect, able to enjoy genuine pleasures again, greater ability to cope with stress, more confidence and more money.
If you are considering co-signing for a loan, credit card or line of credit with another person, it is imperative to research your responsibilities. If you co-sign, the lender will consider you to be a joint borrower, and you become equally responsible for repaying any balances owing on the loan. If the primary borrower is unable to pay the debt, the bank or lender can demand that any borrower and or co-signer listed on the loan or credit agreement pay the entire amount. Also, keep in mind, for certain credit cards, the terms may state that authorized users such as, for example, secondary cardholders can be held responsible for any outstanding balances, even if they did not sign the credit card application. Be sure to read the credit agreement carefully and make sure that you fully understand who is responsible. If you aren’t sure, ask.
If you decide to co-sign for a loan, credit card or line of credit from a federally regulated financial institution, you also have the right to receive the same information about the loan from the lender. For example, if you co-sign for a credit card with another person, the lender must give each of you copies of the credit agreement and the monthly statements, unless you consent to waive this right. This, in turn, allows you to keep track of the status of the loan—whether the other borrower is making payments or if the terms and conditions have changed. In order to guarantee you protect yourself as a co-signer, ask the primary borrower to purchase insurance to pay back the debt in the unfortunate circumstance they pass away. In this circumstance, the primary borrower can name you as the beneficiary on a life insurance policy for an amount that will allow you to pay back the loan. In sum, understand your rights and responsibilities before you co-sign and be certain you read the loan agreement carefully to protect yourself from financial disaster.