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As people get older, often their dependence on others becomes greater and they require assistance performing daily activities like shopping and paying bills. Sometimes, people who are in positions of trust or authority can use it forcefully to their personal financial advantage. Mature Australians, especially following the loss of a loved one, are at risk of financial abuse.
 

Elder financial abuse can happen when someone feels entitled to the elder’s money. It can be a child, carer, relative, Power of Attorney, professional with privileges or trusted individual who may:
 

  • Make transfers to their own personal account
  • Make charges to the elder’s credit card or accounts without permission
  • Demand for monetary loans or gifts
  • Forcefully have them sign a new Will or appoint them as the Power of Attorney or Enduring Power of Attorney
  • Threaten neglect if the elder doesn’t do what they want
     

The elder’s confidence may be shaky and they may feel like they don’t have a choice to say ‘no.’
 

Signs of elder financial abuse:
 

  • Unauthorised (without consent) transactions, withdrawals and transfers from accounts and charges to credit cards
  • Forcing someone to change a Will, Power of Attorney or Enduring Power of Attorney
  • The person appointed as Power of Attorney isn’t following directions or acting with the best interests of the person that they have been appointed to care for
  • Forged signatures on cheques, bank accounts or legal documents
  • Bills and outgoings are in arrears and haven’t been paid, despite assigning the responsibility to a trusted person
  • The mail doesn’t arrive anymore and, in particular, the bank statements aren’t arriving in the post when they should be
  • Feeling isolated from family and friends or being threatened with being isolated if the perpetrator doesn’t receive (usually financially) what they want
  • Assets, property or possessions are being taken without permission or stolen
  • Being made to feel guilty if you don’t give someone money or follow their requests for financial support or assistance
     

Financial abuse for mature individuals may coincide with physical, sexual and mental abuse or neglect. Proving financial abuse can be difficult. Being diligent and aware of your financial situation at all times will help to prevent or mitigate potential financial abuse.
 

To read more about financial abuse, click here.