Financial Abuse – Elder Abuse Awareness
June 15th is World Elder Abuse Awareness day. Elder abuse is any action or inaction by someone in a position of trust that causes distress or harm to an older adult. This is a difficult topic to discuss but it is an important issue that affects nearly 1 in 10 older Canadians. One of the most commonly reported types of elder abuse is financial abuse.
Related Article: Elder Abuse Awareness Day
Financial abuse is theft, fraud, and the misuse of a person’s funds and assets without full knowledge and consent. Since it is a trusted individual that is doing the abuse (a family member, friend, neighbour or support worker), it can be hard to recognize or even believe the signs that a crime is being committed. The abuser may even rely upon the older adult for money, food, and a place to live. Due to a sense of loyalty, some people do not seek out help.
Signs of financial abuse include:
- Being persuaded, tricked, or threatened into giving away money or buying unwanted or unnecessary items.
- Having money taken, joint banking accounts misused, pensions or cheques cashed without permission.
- Money being frequently borrowed and never repaid.
- Unexplained bank account withdrawals or credit card charges.
- Overdue bills that were previously believed to be paid.
- Prevented from making financial decisions or accessing money.
- Finances not being managed as previously agreed to.
- Forced into changing will or signing legal documents that are not fully understood.
- The misuse of power of attorney.
- Pressured into sharing a home or car without fair compensation.
- Pressured into engaging in paid work to bring in extra money.
- Unduly pressuring care for children or grandchildren.
- Forged signatures on legal or banking documents.
There are steps that can be taken to deter financial abuse from taking place. Such measures include:
- Storing financial and personal information in a safe place.
- Keeping track of accounts and legal documents.
- Maintaining a record of financial transactions and changes to legal documents.
- Reading contracts and other documents carefully.
- Seeking out legal advice before signing any documents.
- Keeping in touch with a variety of friends and family to prevent isolation.
- Examining bank and credit card statements every month for fraudulent purchases.
- Remaining skeptical of high-pressure investment opportunities or when someone promises a quick profit.
- Consulting financial services professional prior to investing.
Financial abuse is often accompanied by other forms of abuse, such as psychological abuse, physical abuse or denial of rights. If you are, or someone you love is, experiencing financial abuse, help is within reach. Here are some resources that are available:
- Local police
- Victim Services
- Government of Canada or 1-800-622-6232
- Canadian Network for the Prevention of Elder Abuse
- Alberta Elder Abuse Awareness Council
- Service Alberta | Consumer Protection
- Seniors Protection Partnership
- Elder Abuse Response Team
For more information on preventing, identifying and reporting elder abuse, visit the Government of Alberta Seniors and Housing website.
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