8 Red Flags to Watch For
Financial abuse - and abusers - come in all shapes and sizes. Learn to recognize the signs, whether you’re the victim or you see it happening to someone you know.
- Sudden change in living arrangements - Are you - or is somebody you know - suddenly moving in with a relative or into a nursing home against your will? It takes some planning to organize a move so it’s worth asking what the rush is. There might be a good explanation - or it could be a sign of abuse. Ask questions if you’re unsure.
- Abrupt or sudden change of beneficiary - Are you being pressured to change your Power of Attorney or will? That’s a red flag and a sign that you should be to get some outside advice from a friend or a professional (i.e., a lawyer or your banker).
- Confusion about how money is spent or missing money - Are you missing money from your bank account - or are you seeing unauthorized charges are appearing on credit card statements. That’s a sign of financial abuse and you should immediately contact your bank or credit card provider.
- Things are missing - Is someone taking your things without your permission? Whether it’s a car or a keepsake, if someone is taking things from you and refusing to give them back on demand, it’s a sign of financial abuse.
- Costly/unnecessary repairs or purchases - Sure, some home and car repairs can be expensive - but if you know someone who is being overcharged for services - or charged for things they didn’t ask for - that’s a sign of financial abuse.
- A newly created joint account with a new person - Do you have a friend or relative who’s just opened an account with someone they only recently met or who has financial or legal problems? That’s another red flag.
- The bills are going unpaid - or someone is suddenly short of cash - Is someone you know uncharacteristically short of money? Or concerned bills aren’t getting paid? Ask some questions - financial abuse could be involved.
- Pressure to sign documents the individual does not understand - If you or someone you know is feeling pressured to sign documents they don’t understand, then ask some questions and find out what’s really going on.
What does financial abuse look like? Read Randall’s story:
Randall is 85 and a widower who lives alone. Last year, he had a leaky faucet in the kitchen and hired local handyman, Eric, to fix it.
Since that time Eric has convinced Randall that his home needs a host of expensive repairs. Randall has been giving Eric money to cover the costs of the jobs, which always seem to get pricier.
Now Randall has noticed a few items around the house have gone missing - when he asked about it, Eric got angry. Now, Randall is afraid to say anything - Eric has a key and comes in and out when he pleases.
Randall is embarrassed that he’s let Eric do this to him and he is not sure what to do.
3 things Randall should do right away
- Tell someone he trusts (a friend, family member or neighbour).
- Cut off Eric’s access to the house by changing the locks.
- Consider telling the police.