Financial abuse – Protect yourself and your money

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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 issuesFamily Relationship Advice Line1800 050 328am to 8pm, Monday to Friday10am to 4pm, Saturday
Crisis supportLifeline13 11 1424 hoursCrisis Support Chat
Family violence, abuse and sexual assault counselling1800RESPECT1800 737 73224 hours1800RESPECT Online Chat
Help if you’re struggling with debtNational Debt Helpline1800 007 0079.30am to 4.30pm, Monday to Friday
Family counselling, mediation and dispute resolution servicesRelationships Australia
1300 364 277
Elder abuse victim supportCompass1800 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 centresMy Aged Care1800 200 4228am to 8pm, Monday to Friday10am to 2pm, Saturday
Advocacy and advice for older peopleOlder 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 supportDementia Australia1800 100 5009am to 5pm, Monday to FridayHelpline webchat
Help to get back on your feetGood 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

Wealthness Pty Ltd ABN 13 231 248 112  [t/a Better Financial Planning Australia]  is a Corporate Authorised Representative of Infocus Securities Australia Pty Ltd ABN 47 097 797 049 AFSL No. 236523. It is important to be aware that Better Financial Planning Australia is not authorised by Infocus to provide advice relating to credit services or property advice. Infocus is not responsible for any advice outside of the scope of this authorisation and should you wish to act on any of this general information, please first seek professional financial advice.

Wealthness Pty Ltd t/as Better Financial Planning Australia will endeavour to update the website as needed. However, information can change without notice and Wealthness Pty Ltd t/as Better Financial Planning Australia does not guarantee the accuracy of information on the website, including information provided by third parties, at any time.

This information is of a general nature only and neither represents nor is intended to be specific advice on any particular matter. Infocus Securities Australia Pty Ltd strongly suggests that no person should act specifically on the basis of the information contained herein but should seek appropriate professional advice based upon their own personal circumstances. Although we consider the sources for this material reliable, no warranty is given and no liability is accepted for any statement or opinion or for any error or omission.

Wealthness Pty Ltd t/as Better Financial Planning Australia does not give any warranty as to the accuracy, reliability or completeness of information which is contained in this website. Except insofar as any liability under statute cannot be excluded, Wealthness Pty Ltd t/as Better Financial Planning Australia and its employees do not accept any liability for any error or omission on this website or for any resulting loss or damage suffered by the recipient or any other person.

Wealthness Pty Ltd (ACN 613 313 250) [t/a Better Financial Planning Australia] Corporate Authorised Representative of Infocus Securities Australia Pty Ltd ABN 47 097 797 049 AFSL Licence No. 236523.

Source: ASIC MoneySmart

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