Signs of Financial Abuse
Financial abuse is more commonly reported to the OPG than any other form of abuse. It can occur by itself, but research has shown that where other forms of abuse take place, there is likely to be financial abuse too. OPG staff should keep this in mind.
(From our viewpoint as legal advisers, extra safeguards can be built in to Lasting Powers of Attorney in order to minimise the risk of financial abuse, which is often committed by children who somehow feel that their parents money is theirs to do with as they wish. This is very much NOT the case. It belongs to the parent and should be used for their benefit, anything else may well be criminal. But back to the article.)
Signs that might show financial abuse is taking place.
- A change in living conditions.
- Selling possessions.
- Being unable to pay bills, or an unexplained lack of money.
- Money being taken out of an account without a reason.
- Financial documents being lost without a reason.
- Someone being cut off from family, friends or their social network.
- The carer having more money to spend on things like clothes, travel or accommodation.
- Sudden changes to a bank account or how someone uses it.
- New, recent authorised signers on a client or donor’s account card.
- Money being taken without permission from the adult at risk’s ATM card.
- Changes in how the ATM card is being used (such as more frequently or from different locations).
- Sudden or unexpected changes to someone’s will or other financial documents.
This list shows some of the signs (there can be others) that abuse might be taking place. If something on this list happens, it doesn’t automatically mean someone is being abused – it just means the OPG would need to look closer at the situation.
(As a further aside, we feel that the banks have much to answer for in not clearly explaining the effects of adding signatories to accounts. In may cases, their negligence causes disinheritance and – in effect – fraud, which may or may not be accidental.)
Next article – other forms of abuse including forced marriage...