Audrey Veltri, IG Wealth Management
Canadians living with a disability are significantly more vulnerable to fraud and financial abuse. Veritably, a study published by the Government of Canada reveals that people with disabilities are 50% more likely to be the victim of some form of abuse in their life.
One way to protect those vulnerable to financial exploitation is the valuable practice of having a designated Trusted Contact Person on file with your financial advisor or financial institution. What is a Trusted Contact Person (TCP)? A TCP is a relative, close friend, or caregiver you trust with your personal information. This is not the same as a legally appointed trustee or power of attorney, who has authority to make decisions on your behalf. In fact, a TCP has no authority to act or make decisions. A Trusted Contact Person is an individual that could be contacted should something seem off with you, your account, or should your trustee or power of attorney not be acting appropriately or in your best interests.
An advisor is not authorized to share detailed information about your financial accounts, assets, or holdings unless specific permission for this has been awarded. Rather the advisor is limited to the bounds of client consent and may only disclose the details that the trusted contact person requires to understand the nature of the concern and to obtain help for the client. When naming a TCP with your advisor, you should ensure there is adequate procedure and a formal process in place. New recommendations, as set by the Canadian Securities Administrators (CSA), encourage advisors to name a TCP on all client files, naming someone who can be contacted should something appear off. Once established, remember to check in regularly to ensure your trusted contact person information remains up to date, including contact details. Financial advisors are often well-positioned to see changes in financial behaviour that may indicate a problem. As an example, while supporting a client with a cognitive impairment the advisor notices some unexplained transactions and a higher frequency of requests for funds by the client’s trustee. Fortunately, they had a process for naming a trusted contact person, so the advisor was able to reach out and inquire about the recent account activity. The trusted contact person was able to connect with the client, discuss the situation, and together the TCP and advisor were able to put an end to the exploitation.
Naming a TCP is a valuable method of supporting both the people you love and yourself from suffering future financial harm or abuse. I strongly encourage you to apply this practice across your accounts and the accounts of the people you love to ensure a safe and healthy tomorrow.
If you or someone you care about has questions about this article or could benefit from disability supports and planning for the future, I am here to help.
We provide financial guidance to families supporting dependents with a disability and family stewards to ensure effective access to all financial programs and government supports. We implement strategies to protect these supports and guide families through periods of transition and all life stages. We create solutions that transcend generations, so families can enjoy today, embrace tomorrow and secure a comfortable, safe and healthy future for the whole family.