Financial Abuse

What does financial abuse look like?

Financial Abuse is damage to, or loss of Assets or Property. The abuser is usually a spouse or partner, family member (often adult child), care-giver, friend, or a trusted person in the senior’s life. Financial abuse is often accompanied by other forms of abuse, such as emotional abuse, physical abuse, or denial of rights. Three components are necessary for financial abuse to happen:

  1. Need or Greed – the abuser is under financial pressure.
  2. Opportunity – the abuser has access to funds or property.
  3. False Sense of Entitlement – “I deserve it; I am owed.”

Continuum of Financial Abuse

  • Belief that seniors do not need money or have a future
  • Theft of cash, credit cards, bank cards, mail
  • Cashing in RRSP’s without permission
  • Using the senior’s bank card to withdraw cash from the machine (often large sums) without their knowledge.
  • Unpaid loans or repeated borrowing
  • Using trickery or persuasion to get a senior’s money or possessions
  • Taking or withholding a senior’s pension or insurance cheque
  • Borrowing or taking a senior’s possessions without permission
  • Selling the senior’s property or possessions without permission
  • Forcing the senior to change his/her Will or give a Power of Attorney
  • Misuse of Power of Attorney
  • Refusing to pay senior’s bills, rent or mortgage
  • Forging a senior’s name or altering a document
  • Establishing a “joint account” and using the senior’s money without his/her knowledge or permission
  • Theft from accounts in a financial institution
  • Believing that a parent’s assets, money or property should be yours
  • Forcing senior to sign over their car or house
  • Leaving person destitute

Misuse of powers of attorney and joint bank accounts are one of the main ways that financial abuse occurs. Check the following links for information and advice about how to protect yourself

Financial Abuse Scenarios

Scenario #1

After obtaining a Power of Attorney from his grandfather, Robert began to sell some of the acres of land and some of the livestock. He promised his grandfather he would give him the money once the transaction was completed. Many months passed and Robert had not paid his grandfather. His grandfather asked Robert for the money several times, but did not receive it.

Scenario #2

While her mother was in the hospital, Karen moved her mother’s silver tea service, some valuable books and a grand piano to her own home. When her mother returned from hospital she asked the police to assist her in recovering her stolen property. Karen stated that she had taken the goods for safe-keeping and that these items are heirlooms belonging, not just to the mother, but to the entire family.

Scenario #3

A care-giver befriends a senior and persuades him or her to open a “joint-account” so that she can assist with bill paying and getting cash from the account as required. Within a few months the senior discovers that the account has very little money remaining. A considerable amount of money has been withdrawn. Because it is a joint account, either party can take money out of the account.

Scenario #4

A mother frequently gives her adult son her pension cheque to be deposited into her account, asking him to bring back a specified amount of cash. While at the financial institution, her son uses his mother’s pension cheque for payment to his overdue credit card. He did not have his mother’s permission.