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Staying safe

Financial abuse

Financial abuse is the theft or misuse of money or personal possessions, which involves an individual's resources being used to the advantage of another person.

Examples of financial abuse

  • money or possessions stolen, borrowed or withheld without permission
  • preventing someone buying goods, services or leisure activities
  • controlling access to money or benefits
  • money being misappropriated and absorbed into a Care Home's or household budget without the person's consent
  • staff or volunteers borrowing or accepting gifts or money from service users
  • goods or services purchased in someone's name but without their consent
  • taking out a loan in someone's name
  • being deliberately overcharged for goods or services or being asked to part with money on false pretences
  • altering ownership of property without consent
  • being asked to sign or give consent to financial agreements (including making a Will) when a person does not have the mental capacity to understand or give informed consent

Indicators of financial abuse

  • unexplained withdrawals from a person's bank account
  • an unexplained shortage of money, despite an adequate income or immediately following benefit day
  • the disappearance of bank statements, other documents or valuables, including jewellery
  • a person's inability to explain what is happening to their own income
  • unpaid or sudden inability to pay bills
  • reluctance on the part of family, friends or the person controlling funds to pay for replacement clothes or furniture
  • loans, or credit being taken out by a person in circumstances that give cause for concern, such as the age of the person taking out the loan and the alleged reason for the loan
  • disparity between assets and satisfactory living conditions
  • pressure by family members and other people to sign over assets or alter wills
  • recent change of deeds or title of house
  • items purchased which are not appropriate for the person
  • the individual lacks belongings or services which they can clearly afford
  • carer asks only financial questions of the worker, does not ask questions about care

In addition, there are certain factors, which may increase the risk of a person being financially abused:

  • the person is unable to manage their own finances due to lack of capacity or sufficient numeracy skills
  • the person is known to be isolated or is regarded as at risk within the community
  • the person who is isolated or lives on their own may be more at risk of being exposed to financial pressure e.g. from salespersons, loan firms, rogue traders or bogus callers
  • the person is dependent on another person or people to manage their money.