Elder Financial Abuse

Financial abuse is the most commonly reported type of abuse that people may experience in later life. It accounts for over a half of elder abuse situations reported. Financial abuse can happen at any time, but it often starts after a health crisis or after the death of a spouse, partner or close friend. Older adults who are alone, or in poor health are more vulnerable to abuse. They may find it harder to protect themselves from demands for money or other forms of financial abuse. Examples of financial abuse include pressuring an older adult with requests for money, using an older adult’s property or money without their permission, or improperly using one’s authority as a power of attorney.

How to spot possible signs of financial abuse:

• Someone has taken your money or cashed my cheques without your permission.
• Undocumented loans that the borrower may later claim was ‘gifts.’
• Someone frequently borrows money from you and doesn't repay it.
• Being pressured into giving away money or purchasing things that you do not want or need.
• Noticing withdrawals from my bank account or charges to my credit card that you cannot explain.
• Receiving overdue bills that you thought were paid.
• Someone has prevented you from making your own financial decisions or accessing your money.
• Being forced into changing your will or signing legal documents that you don't fully understand.
• Being pressured to help avoid bankruptcy (adult son/daughter) at the point of losing home/business

Ways to protect yourself:

• Set up your finances so that the financial institution automatically pays your bills, especially if your health changes or you need to go to the hospital or into a care facility
• Be very cautious if you open a joint bank account – the other person can take away all the money without asking.
• Keep your financial and personal information in a secure place.
• Keep track of all your investment accounts and legal documents.
• Keep a record of financial transactions and changes to legal documents.
• Carefully read and review contracts and other documents.
• For major decisions involving your home or other property, get your own professional legal advice before signing any documents.
• Stay in touch with a variety of friends and family so you don't become isolated.
• Tell someone if you think you are experiencing financial abuse: a friend, family member, health care or social services professional, legal or financial advisor, or local authorities.

Seek Help

If you believe you are experiencing financial abuse, ask for help. If you don't have a family member or close friend who can help you, ask your credit union, your local seniors centre, or even your care provider or health care professional where you can go for advice and help.

We are here to help, call us at 604-654-2000 for assistance.