Our Retirement Pty Ltd
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Warning Signs of Financial Abuse

Warning Signs of Financial Abuse

 

Financial abuse is using another person's money contrary to that person's wishes, needs or best interests.

When a person in a position of trust takes advantage of a vulnerable old person to gain control of their money, property or their life - either directly or through a Power of Attorney, a trust, marriage, adoption or inheritance, they can exert undue influence their assets.

Warning signs of financial abuse in the elderly include but are not limited to:

  • Reluctance to make or sudden changes to a Will 
  • Management of a competent person’s finances by another person
  • Loss of jewellery and personal property
  • Financial transactions beyond a person's capabilities - for example ATM withdrawals from accounts of people who have difficulty getting to a bank
  • Loss of financial material eg. bank books, credit cards, cheque books
  • Cashing of personal cheques
  • Unexplained withdrawals from bank accounts - especially those that incur financial penalties
  • Sudden inability to pay bills: rent, buy food or participate in social activities
  • Substandard care being provided despite adequate funds being available
  • Bills not paid when money entrusted to a third party
  • Provision of services that are not necessary
  • The sale of property and unprecedented transfer of funds
  • Improper attainment, or misuse of a Power of Attorney or Enduring Power of Attorney
  • Discovery of forged signatures on financial transactions or transfer documents
  • Appearance of previously uninvolved relatives claiming their rights to financial affairs and possessions.

The abuser is often a trusted person in a senior’s life, such as a spouse or partner, family member (often an adult child), caregiver or friend.

Often seniors who are victims of abuse are reluctant to speak out. They may be more afraid of what will happen to them if they report the abuse, than of the abuse itself.

Sometimes, seniors simply do not have the capacity to report abuse.

In many cases, coercion or threats are used to intimidate a senior. Comments may be made such as: “if you don’t do what I say, I will put you in a nursing home,” or “you aren't going to live long enough to spend all this money anyway.”

Seniors in these situations may blame themselves for the abuse they are subjected to. They can also become depressed and become more vulnerable in the process.

They may also be reluctant to report the abuse because they are ashamed about the abuse or embarrassed that they placed their trust in the abuser.

Some seniors may also believe that it was something he or she did that brought on the abuse.

Furthermore, if abuse has been common in a family, both the abuser and the senior may accept it as “normal” behaviour.

 

How can we help?

We can help bring back control to an abused person's finances.

There are several steps that can be implemented such as changing bank accounts and re-issuing credit cards.

We can contact the Department of Human Services/Centrelink, your pension and annuity providers and have your income directed to bank accounts that you control.

Bills can be paid by direct debits on bank accounts and not left to the care of the abuser.

We can also assist with communications with legal representatives, accountants and the police.