Protecting your money from others
Financial abuse occurs when another person (perhaps your
partner, one of your children, or another family member or friend),
manipulates your decisions, or controls your access to money or
other property without your consent. It can happen to anyone, no
matter how old you are or how much money you have.
Financial abuse warning
If you're in a financially abusive relationship, it can be
difficult to see the warning signs. Sometimes it takes a friend to
notice what's really happening and help you find the support you
Here are some of the warning signs you may be in a financially
- Someone else controls your access to bank accounts or other
- Another person refuses to contribute financially to you or the
family, or they don't provide enough money to cover living
- You are denied access to the internet, phone or transport,
which prevents you from working or studying.
- Someone is taking out loans or running up debts in your name,
or pressuring you to sign up for a loan.
- You have to get permission from another person to spend your
- Someone is selling (or threatening to sell) your property
without your permission.
- You are being made to feel like you are incompetent with
Financial abuse is often accompanied by anger, verbal abuse, or
the threat of violence. As well as losing money, financial
abuse can also cause social isolation, depression and anxiety.
Where to get help and support for
If you think you or someone you know may be experiencing
financial abuse, you can contact the following organisations for
||What they do
||Free, confidential family violence and sexual assault
||1800 737 732, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week
|Family Relationship Advice
||Information and advice on family relationship issues and
parenting arrangements after separation
||1800 050 321, 8am-8pm Mon to Fri, 10am-4pm Sat
|| Provides crisis support services
||131 114, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week
||Free information and resources that can help if you're
struggling with debt
||1800 007 007, 9.30am to 4.30pm, Monday to Friday
||Counselling services, mediation, and family dispute resolution
||1300 364 277 (call from anywhere in Australia for the cost of a
||Victorian free information support and referral service for
women, conducts research into women and financial
||1300 134 130
Women's Domestic Violence Court Advocacy Services
||Assistance to obtain legal protection from domestic violence
and help with other needs including accessing support services. NSW
||1800 938 227
Elder financial abuse
Older people are particularly vulnerable to financial abuse
because they often depend on family members and other people for
their daily care or social contact. The people around you might try
to control your money or other assets.
Elder financial abuse commonly involves family members,
including spouses, children, grandchildren, nieces or nephews, but
can include others such as carers, neighbours or friends.
Signs of elder financial abuse
As well as the warning signs listed
above, here are some additional red flags that may be a sign that
you are experiencing elder financial abuse:
- Another person is accessing or controlling your bank accounts
or credit cards or using them without your consent.
- You are forced to change your will.
- A friend or family member pressures you to appoint them as your
enduring power of attorney.
- The person you've appointed as your power of
attorney is not acting in your best interests (e.g. they're
taking money from your bank account to pay their bills).
- Your signature has been forged on cheques, bank accounts or
- Your bills haven't been paid, even though someone else is
supposed to be doing this for you.
- You are pressured to invest money in schemes that sound too
good to be true.
- Large or unexplained withdrawals or transfers have been made
from your bank account.
- You're no longer receiving your mail (including account
statements), and you don't know why.
- Someone is isolating you (or threatening to isolate you) from
your family or friends if you don't give them what they want.
- Your property or possessions are being used without your
- A person is making you feel guilty if you don't give them
Financial abuse often occurs with other forms of abuse, such as
physical abuse, sexual abuse, psychological abuse or neglect.
Evidence of these forms of abuse is usually more visible than
financial abuse, and can sometimes be a sign that financial abuse
Support for elder abuse victims
You can obtain free legal advice from a community
legal centre or Legal Aid office in your state or territory.
There are also organisations in each state and territory to
support you if think you, or someone you know, might be
experiencing elder financial abuse:
Here are some things you can do to help protect yourself from
- Talk about financial matters with your family and friends.
- Learn to recognise and avoid financial scams.
- Keep track of your finances by checking your bank statements
regularly to make sure there have been no unauthorised
- Open your own mail.
- Stay in touch with the people you trust and care about.
- If you lend money to someone, set up a repayment plan.
- Never sign a document or make a big financial decision unless
you understand the terms and what your obligations are.
Financial abuse is never okay. In some states
and territories it is regarded as a form of family violence.
Recognise the warning signs and don't be afraid to get help.
Last updated: 20 Feb 2019