What is financial abuse?
Financial abuse is: “The unauthorised and improper use of funds, property or any resources belonging to another individual”.
S42 of the Care Act 2014 states that financial and material abuse includes:
- Internet scamming.
- Coercion in relation to an adult’s financial affairs or arrangements, including in connection with wills, property, inheritance or financial transactions.
- The misuse or misappropriation of property, possessions, or benefits.
The most common type of financial abuse is committed by partners, family members, friends, or carers. This is committed by people who are in a position of trust and power. This may include;
- Taking money out of a person’s account or cash by family members from their wallet/purse without their permission
- Taking out credit in a person’s name without their knowledge or permission such as a credit card or bank loan.
- Cashing a person’s cheques or money without their consent.
- A person being stopped from accessing their own finances and bank accounts.
- A person using a bank or credit card without the permission of the card holder to purchase items for their own financial gain.
- Taking possessions or property from the persons home without their consent.
- A person requesting for benefits to be paid into their account and failing to provide the victim with their benefits.
- Romance fraud, a person who meets an individual online who grooms the person into making payments.
- Blackmail which is a type of abuse that can be used for financial gain and may involve using threats of physical, mental or emotional harm, or of criminal prosecution, against a victim or someone close to them.
Commercial Financial Abuse
This is committed by those who are categorised or purporting to be a commercial entity and may include;
- A Trader stating work needs to be done on a property due to it being in “disrepair” or “unsafe”. This includes, driveways, tarmacking, gardening, guttering, roofing, tree cutting, etc.
- A person purporting to be a trader, grooming and befriending persons to extort money and assets from them which is fraud
- Phone call purporting to be from the bank or police asking the victim to withdraw money from their account and meet a courier. Referred to as courier fraud.
- Impersonating of officials such as TV licencing demanding for payment of services, this could be over the phone, online or in person.
- Postal, telephone and internet scams where the person has fallen victim to the fraudster claiming to be an investment company and the person is groomed into giving them money.
- Being deliberately overcharged for goods or services or being asked to part with money under false pretences.
- Unlicensed money lending (loan sharks) e.g; being offered a loan on very bad terms
- Staff or volunteers borrowing money or accepting gifts or money from clients.
- Professionals misusing a person’s assets. e.g; Carers using an adults Blue Badge or their mobility car without them present for their own personal gain
- Personal allowance for a person in a care home being absorbed into a care home or household budget or misappropriated by care staff.
- Care provider/ day service intentionally charging a person for support although it is not delivered at the amount agreed in Care and Support Plan eg;1:1 support delivered and not 2:1.
Advice and Signposting
Heart of the South West Trading Standards is at the forefront of tackling financial abuse through their activities in identifying, visiting and supporting victims of scams. They are also actively working in partnership with the National Trading Standards (NTS) Scams Team to deliver key education to help promote the continued health and wellbeing of those potentially at risk of scamming
Other Useful Resources
Kent County Council have produced a Financial Abuse Toolkit which can be access here
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