New bank form aims to help reduce fraud against seniors, limit liability
In Canada last year, seniors lost $4.2 million to the so-called grandparent scam and other seniors lost money to phishing scams after their computers were hacked.
When seniors are caught in a scam, criminals often instruct their victims to take cash out of the bank or to wire transfer funds by lying and saying they are repaying a loan from an old friend or doing home renovations.
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That’s what happened to 87-year-old Carmen Chisamore of Scarborough, Ont. when he got caught in a Norton Antivirus phishing scam.
Chisamore was told to wire $41,400 in November and if the teller asked about the transfer, he was instructed to say he was paying money back to an old college friend
“The fact that they had repeatedly told me not to talk to the bank should have sent up all kinds of flares up," Chisamore said.
Last month, Stuart Irvine of Mississauga, Ont. got caught in the grandparent scam and was told to take out $8,000 cash and to send it for bail to release his grandson.
After he did that, Irvine said he realized he had “been had.”
Many people wonder why banks don't do more to protect their older customers, but if people want to take out their money they have the right to do so.
Now, TD Canada Trust is using a bank form that could raise red flags and help deter fraud.
The TD Canada Trust Form for Large Cash Withdrawals says, “TD has warned me fraudsters may ask victims to mail cash, deposit cash…or send funds to international accounts.”
“I confirm I am acting of my own free will and have not been pressured by a third party to withdraw this cash.”
Tanya Walker, a lawyer who is an expert in fraud cases, said the bank form could help some customers realize they are being targeted by scammers.
“I agree it's a great first step for the banks to do something because it would let the person who wants to withdraw the money be aware that this is quite serious and maybe alert them that they might be getting defrauded," said Walker.
The form also says, “I discharge and release TD from all liability relating to the delivery of this cash to me.”
Walker said that sentence may not be enough to say a bank is not liable.
“I think it could be problem in the future if the bank is unable to demonstrate that the person who signed the form actually understood what that sentence meant," said Walker.
In a statement, a spokesperson for TD told CTV News Toronto, “This form is used as a tool to underscore certain risks, such as physical security, theft, scams and fraud, at the time of a large cash withdrawal. Prior to signing the form, TD's policy is to highlight these risks for the customer and provide alternatives to cash (e.g., wire or draft).”
“The form could help to raise a red flag with the customer, especially if they've been coached by fraudsters.”
As criminals continue to target seniors, banks may have to do more to make sure they don't get scammed. Families are also encouraged to talk about fraud and tell seniors to ask for help if they're not sure what to do.
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