Signs of Financial Abuse

Posted 29 Jul 2014 by Natalie LeBlanc

When you spend your lifetime building up your wealth, the last of your worries should be being taken advantage of for it. Sadly, financial abuse is one of the most common types of abuse against seniors and can be devastating to you or your loved ones, emotionally and financially.

While some cases are legally cases of theft or fraud, other cases can take the form of pressure, force, or being tricked into making decisions you aren’t comfortable with. What’s worse is that it is not uncommon for the abuser to be someone who you know and love. Some potential methods of abuse might include:

  • Pressure to lend money or valuables;
  • Regularly using lent money for purchases they were not intended for;
  • Cashing cheques without permission;
  • Pressure to change your will;
  • Forging your signature;
  • Pressure to sign documents you don’t understand or give them power to sign on your behalf.

“My son told me if I didn't sign a cheque for him that he would stop bringing my grandchildren to visit. I didn't want to lose contact with my family, so I signed it and gave it to him. Now he is asking for more.”

(Source, CRA)

Learn the Signs

You might be able to identify if you are being financially abused by the feeling of uneasiness or being uncomfortable with a situation or request from a loved one. Other signs are more concrete:

  • Someone cashing cheques without permission;
  • Someone frequently borrowing money without repaying;
  • Inability to explain charges on a debit or credit card;
  • Receiving overdue bills that you thought were paid (especially if someone takes care of your bills for you);
  • Someone preventing you access to your money;
  • Someone taking away your ability to make financial decisions or not managing your finances in the way you had agreed.

If you feel like you’re being pressured into making decisions you otherwise wouldn’t, or if you’re experiencing any of the signs above, talk to someone you trust about it. Reach out and ask for help. Some people fear they are being disloyal to their family members by taking a stand when, in reality, they are being disloyal to you by being abusive.