What is Financial Abuse?

The Care Act 2014 describes ‘financial abuse’ as a type of abuse which includes having money or other property stolen, being defrauded, being put under pressure in relation to money or other property and having money or other property misused.

What is financial abuse?

While the Care Act 2014 definition is clear, financial abuse take many forms. It’s a type of abuse that can start subtle and is often hard to detect.

When defining financial abuse, we know there are many elements at play. It is true that financial abuse often involves or is associated with:

  • Someone taking or misusing someone else’s money or belongings for their own gain
  • Harming, depriving or disadvantaging the victim
  • Controlling someone’s purchases or access to money
  • Often associated with other forms of abuse
  • Doesn’t always involve a crime like theft or fraud

Types of financial abuse

What financial abuse looks like can vary which can make it difficult to detect and identify. As the Care Act 2014 definition shows, financial abuse can be concerning money, property or belongings.

Financial abuse might look like:

  • Borrowing money and not giving it back
  • Stealing money or belongings
  • Taking pension payments or other benefit away from someone
  • Taking money as payment for coming to visit or spending time together
  • Forcing someone to sell their home or assets without consent
  • Tricking someone into bad investments
  • Forcing someone to make changes in wills, property or inheritance

Signs of financial abuse

If suspect that you, or someone you know might be a victim of financial abuse, here are some of the behaviours and signs that might suggest financial abuse could be happening:

  • Unexplained money loss
  • Lack of money to pay for essentials such as rent, bills and food
  • Inability to access or check bank accounts and bank balance
  • Changes or deterioration in standards of living e.g. not having items or things they would usually have
  • Unusual or inappropriate purchases in bank statements
  • Isolation and withdrawal from friends and family
  • Lack of things you’d expect someone to be able to afford e.g. TV, grooming items, clothing

Who commits financial abuse?

Financial abuse can be committed by anyone anywhere, even people employed to provide care.

This might include:

  • Spouses, friends, family and neighbours
  • People employed to provide care
  • Volunteers
  • Strangers

Who is at risk of financial abuse?

Financial abuse can affect anyone.

It often takes place where there is an unequal balance of power. This can happen when:

  • Someone is a victim of anther form of abuse such as domestic abuse or violence
  • Someone has a learning disability
  • Someone has a medical condition
  • Someone takes medication

Financial abuse advice and information

If you want to report or get advice about financial abuse there are a number of options open to you.

Local Safeguarding Adults Board
If you want to report financial abuse – you can contact your local safeguarding adults board. You should be able to find their contact information by searching ‘safeguarding adults board’ and your local area.

Helplines

As financial abuse is often associated with other forms of abuse, there are helplines associated with other forms of about which can help. For example,

Action on Elder Abuse

National Domestic Violence Helpline

Victim Support

For more, please see our list of recommended helplines.