Power of Attorney

A power of attorney is a legal document that gives someone the authority to act on your behalf with respect to financial matters.

How can it be abused? — As the name suggests, a Power of Attorney gives someone power to make decisions about your money and your health. It can give someone access to your bank accounts and other finances -- and it can give them the power to sell your home or other assets and sign agreements on your behalf. Financial abuse occurs when that power is used to benefit the Attorney (not you). Read More.

Joint bank accounts

Having a joint bank account means you're holding funds in an account with another person. You're both legal owners of the funds and both of you have full access to that money.

How can it be abused? — A joint bank account can be a helpful tool if the other holder is trustworthy - it can help to have someone you trust pay your bills and manage your money if you're unable to do so. But if your joint bank account holder isn't trustworthy, he or she can use your money for their own benefit, not yours. It is important to know that you have essentially given shared ownership of your funds to the other person. Read More.

Forgery

Someone forges your signature on legal or financial documents in order to use your money and assets to their advantage - not yours.

Pressure to sign

Someone is trying hard to get you to sign legal or financial documents - they might even be using threats.

Exploitation by service providers

Whether it's a contractor or sales person, someone is taking advantage of you by charging too much for the job or asking for extra money for services you didn't request for or don't need.

Refusing to return something borrowed

Someone has asked to borrow money or items from you - and now they won't to give it back, even when you've asked several times.

Who can be a financial abuser?

Financial abuse can happen close to home.

  • A family member
  • A caregiver (family/professional)
  • A neighbor/friend
  • A service provider or contractor
  • What does financial abuse look like? Read Julia's story

What does financial abuse look like? Read Julia's story:

JuliaJulia's husband died two years ago. Since then her grandson David has been a big help, taking her grocery shopping and to the bank. Last winter she broke her ankle - getting around was tough so David offered to do her banking and buy all her groceries for her.

This month Julia noticed that her bank balance is dangerously low and there isn’t enough to cover her phone and heating bills. She asked her grandson about it and he got angry with her - now she feels afraid to bring the subject up.

3 things Julia should do right away:

  1. Call her bank and discuss the situation with them.
  2. Tell a friend what is happening.
  3. Cut off her grandson’s access to her bank accounts (i.e., changing her PIN numbers).