Posted on 17 January 2019
More than 1.6million Australians are affected by financial abuse each year, and 3 in 4 of these people are aged 50 or over.
Financial abuse can take many forms, from scams and fraud to emotional blackmail and theft – and it can be committed by strangers, friends or even family members.
Elderly people are particularly vulnerable to this kind of mistreatment and the impacts can extend beyond financial loss, e.g. it can cause anxiety and depression, or prevent access to food, medical care and safety.
Because it can be hard to spot financial abuse, its worth taking some time to understand the risks before it’s too late.
Who is at risk?
People are more at risk of being a target of elder financial abuse if they:
- Are alone or isolated
- Have a physical or mental disability
- Have a limited understanding of finance
- Experience language or cultural barriers
- Are reliant on others for care
Types of Elder financial abuse include:
- Threats and intimidation – Physically or emotionally pressuring an elderly person to sign over their assets
- Improper use of funds – using an older person’s money for purposes that weren’t agreed upon
- Guarantors gone wrong – Older parents acting as guarantor to children’s loans may lose their home
- Theft – Thieves can exploit an older persons physical or mental vulnerability
- Fraud and scams – Falsely gaining an elderly person’s trust in order to steal their money
- Abusing power of attorney – The attorney using this power to take the older persons assets
- Failure to provide care – when an arrangement to provide care for older relatives breaks down
- Abusing family agreements – Entering into an informal agreement that has no legal backing
- Inheritance impatience – Taking assets from an ageing relative while they are still alive – for example stealing money
- Emotional blackmail – Demanding money in exchange for specific favours – such as access to grandkids