Financial Abuse is the unlawful or improper use of someone else’s financial resources for personal gain, causing harm or distress. It involves a pattern of controlling and manipulating the financial aspects of a person’s life. It is a common tactic used by abusers to gain power and control over their victim.

Women in intimate partner relationships and our elderly are the most likely to suffer from the financial abuse of another person. Let’s dive into the red flags of financial abuse and how to protect yourself or others from this manipulation.

Financial Abuse: Women in Intimate Partner Relationships

Methods that may be used by the abuser to exert control over the victim: 

  1. Controlling and limiting access to money: The abuser insists on controlling all financial resources, limiting their partner’s access to cash, bank accounts, or credit cards, leaving them financially dependent and powerless.  
  2. Monitoring of spending: Closely monitoring every expenditure and questioning or criticizing every purchase, causing their victim to feel guilty and anxious about spending money.  
  3. Forbidding employment or education: In an attempt to maintain dominance, the abuser may forbid their partner from working or pursuing education, keeping them economically reliant and trapped. The abuser will use guilt-inducing language that belittles the victim’s dreams and ambitions, making them feel as though her own future is less significant than the obligations imposed by the abuse.   
  4. Sabotaging credit or financial good standing: The abuser may intentionally damage their partner’s credit score or financial reputation by intentionally missing payments, making it difficult for her to access financial resources or even rent a home.  
  5. Coercing debt accumulation: By coercing or manipulating their victim into accumulating debt, the abuser deepens their financial control and ensures their victim remains in a state of perpetual indebtedness. 

When it comes to intimate partner financial abuse there are many red flags to look for including: 

  • Suden loss of financial independence 
  • Unexplained financial secrecy 
  • Frequent arguments over money 
  • Unjustified accumulation of debt 
  • Isolation from friends and family 
  • Borrowing money with no way of paying it back 

What to do if you see these signs in a friend or loved one?   

  1. Initiate a private conversation: Take the initiative to have a private and compassionate conversation to express your genuine concerns about their well-being and safety.   
  2. Offer Support: Assure them that there is a support network available whenever they choose to take action.  
  3. National Abuse Hotline: i(800)799-7233  In cases where the situation appears severe, especially when combined with other forms of abuse, and you fear for your loved one’s safety, do not hesitate to contact the national abuse hotline. They can provide guidance, resources, and assistance tailored to that specific situation.  

Financial Abuse: Our Elderly

Various ways our elderly population are subjected to financial abuse: 

  • Exploitation by family members or caregivers. 
  • Intimidation by a family member or caregiver  
  • Identity theft and scams targeting seniors. 
  • Misuse of power of attorney 

Red Flags that may indicate financial vulnerability in our elderly: 

  • unexplained withdrawals or transfers 
  • changes in legal documents 
  • Social isolation 
  • Financial anxiety 
  • Missing possessions 

Steps to take to protect them:

  1. Create an honest and open dialog: Speak candidlyabout your concerns and reassure them you are only there to help them to ensure their financial security. 
  2. Involve siblings: Collaboration among family members can help prevent misunderstandings and ensure everyone is on the same page. 
  3. Monitoring accounts: keep a close eye on your elderly loved one’s financial accounts. Early detection is key to preventing financial exploitation. 
  4. Share stories of known frauds targeting them: Sharing these tactics with them creates awareness of these scams intended to defraud them. 

Legal and financial recourse options available to protect our elderly: 

  • Restraining orders: In cases of suspected financial exploitation, you may consider obtaining restraining orders to prevent further harm.  
  • Seeking restitution: if financial exploitation has occurred, explore legal avenues to seek restitution for any losses incurred. 
  • Reporting to authorities: don’t hesitate to report suspected financial abuse to relevant authorities. They can investigate and take appropriate action to protect your loved one. 

Any opinions are those of Gainspoletti Financial Services and not necessarily those of Raymond James. We do not, however, practice as lawyers or CPAs and cannot give specific legal or tax advice. You should always consult with your tax advisor, or your attorney, when making complicated legal or tax decisions, however, we’re glad to work with your tax or legal professional to help you meet your financial goals. Raymond James financial advisors do not render advice on tax or legal matters.