Financial abuse is when someone takes away your access to money, manipulates your financial decisions, or uses your money without consent. Once you know this, there are ways to get help and regain your independence.
Financial abuse is a type of family violence. It often happens alongside other types of violence, such as physical or emotional abuse. It can leave you feeling vulnerable, isolated, depressed and anxious. It can also take away your independence.
Financial abuse can happen to anyone. The abuser could be your partner, or a family member, carer or friend.
Elder financial abuse is also a serious problem. Older people can be more vulnerable to financial abuse. This is because they often depend on others for help with financial tasks and decisions.
Getting help and support for financial abuse
If you or someone you know is experiencing financial abuse, free and confidential help is available.
If you need legal help or advice, see free legal advice.
If you’re in crisis or struggling to make ends meet, find out how to get urgent help with money.
Contact one of these organisations for free and confidential support.
|Help for families affected by relationship or separation issues||Family Relationship Advice Line1800 050 328am to 8pm, Monday to Friday10am to 4pm, Saturday|
|Crisis support||Lifeline13 11 1424 hoursCrisis Support Chat|
|Family violence, abuse and sexual assault counselling||1800RESPECT1800 737 73224 hours1800RESPECT Online Chat|
|Help if you’re struggling with debt||National Debt Helpline1800 007 0079.30am to 4.30pm, Monday to Friday|
|Family counselling, mediation and dispute resolution services||Relationships Australia|
1300 364 277
|Elder abuse victim support||Compass1800 ELDERHelp|
1800 353 374Note: this number redirects you to the phone line in your state or territory. Operating hours and services vary.
|State and territory elder abuse victim resource centres||My Aged Care1800 200 4228am to 8pm, Monday to Friday10am to 2pm, Saturday|
|Advocacy and advice for older people||Older Persons Advocacy Network1800 700 6008am to 8pm, Monday to FridayNote: this number redirects you to the Older Persons Advocacy Network organisation in your state or territory.|
|Dementia information and support||Dementia Australia1800 100 5009am to 5pm, Monday to FridayHelpline webchat|
|Help to get back on your feet||Good Shepherd Australia Financial Independence Hub 1300 050 1509am to 5pm, Monday to Friday|
Signs of a financially abusive person
A person can be financially abusive in many different ways. Some signs of financial abuse are when a person:
Controls your access to money
- restricts your access to bank accounts, credit cards or cash
- makes you ask permission to spend your own money
- denies you access to the internet, phone or transport to prevent you from working or studying
- refuses to contribute to shared costs or child support
- refuses to provide you with enough money for living expenses or for costs related to raising children
Uses your money without your knowledge or consent
- forges your signature on cheques
- withdraws or transfers large amounts of money from your bank account
- uses your credit card
- cancels or hides bank or credit card statements
- uses bill, rent or mortgage money for something else
- sells your property
Signs legal documents
- forges your signature on legal documents
- forces you to sign documents that you don’t understand
- takes out loans, credit cards or debts in your name without your permission
- pressures you to take on a loan or a debt on their behalf
- forces or pressures you to change your will
- forces or pressures you to appoint them as your enduring power of attorney
- doesn’t act in your best interests as your power of attorney
Threatens or punishes you
- makes you feel guilty if you don’t give them money
- isolates you — or threatens to — from your family or friends if you don’t give them money
- hurts or punishes you — or threatens to — if you don’t give them money
- makes you feel stupid or that you can’t be trusted with money
- questions or punishes your spending
Preventing financial abuse
Help protect yourself from financial abuse by:
- staying in touch with people you trust, and not being afraid to talk about any concerns you have
- learning to recognise and avoid financial scams
- regularly checking bank and credit card statements for unauthorised transactions
- opening your own mail
- storing documents, account logins and passwords in a safe and secure place
- if you lend money to someone, putting it in writing and making a plan with them for repayment
- never signing documents you don’t understand
- where possible, getting independent and confidential legal or financial advice
- asking someone you trust to check that the person who manages your money is doing it in your best interests
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Source: ASIC MoneySmart