How to Stop and Spot Financial Abuse – 360 Financial Strategists

In today’s world, financial abuse is a concerning issue that affects countless individuals. Understanding financial abuse and being able to identify its signs is crucial to preventing and stopping it. In this guide, we’ll delve into financial abuse, exploring its definition, common signs, and steps to protect yourself or someone you care about.

Until recently, people didn’t talk much about financial abuse, especially when it happened in families. But things are changing now, thanks to campaigns and more help being available.

Financial abuse can really hurt people emotionally and financially. A recent report in Australia found that in 2020, victims of financial abuse lost a lot of money – $5.7 billion. And it’s not just individuals who suffer – the whole economy loses money too, about $5.2 billion.

According to a report by Deloitte Access Economics, almost one out of every 30 women and one out of every 50 men experience financial abuse every year. But these numbers might be even higher, the report says.

Financial abuse doesn’t just happen to certain kinds of people – it can affect anyone, no matter their age or how much money they have. Sadly, the person doing the abusing is often someone close, like a friend, caregiver, partner, or family member.

What is financial abuse?

Financial abuse means someone uses your money without your permission, stops you from accessing your money, or makes decisions about your money without your say.

These days, people see financial abuse as a type of domestic and family violence. It takes away your freedom and makes you feel weak and worried. Victims might also face physical harm and emotional abuse.

The most common type of financial abuse, as the Deloitte report says, is when someone controls how income is spent or keeps it from you. But there are other ways people can hurt you financially, like making you responsible for a debt, stopping you from working, not helping with household expenses, or refusing to support a child.

Victims of financial abuse often suffer other problems too, like money troubles and stress, which can lead to mental health issues. Some may even lose their homes.

In some cases of family violence, one partner takes control of all the money, making it hard for the victim to leave. Even if the victim does leave, the abuser might keep hurting them financially, like by suing them or messing with their job or business.

Recognising the signs of financial abuse

Victims of financial abuse might not realize they’re being mistreated for a while. During this time, the people hurting them could be taking all their money from bank accounts, using up their investments, or making them owe a lot of money.

Services Australia, a government agency, says there are signs of financial abuse to watch out for:

– Someone taking or using your money without asking
– Not being allowed to work
– Having to explain how you spend your money
– Not getting important money info
– Someone using government payments you get without your okay

Another way people can hurt you financially is by making you owe money. For instance, your partner might spend more money than you agreed on with your credit card, make you sign a loan with them, or get a loan in your name. They might also stop you from getting more education, which could help your job.

Older people and people with disabilities can be especially at risk for financial abuse if they need help from others. The abusers might take money from their bank accounts or wallets, make them change their Will, take valuable stuff from their home, or control their choices with a Power of Attorney even if they can still decide for themselves.

Where to go for help

If you or someone you know is facing financial abuse, there are places you can get help for free and in private.

The MoneySmart website can tell you about places where you can get free legal advice at community legal centers or legal aid centers. They also have tips if you need urgent help with money.

You can also get free and private counseling for family violence, abuse, and sexual assault at:

– 1800RESPECT (open 24/7) at 1800 737 732
– Lifeline (open 24/7) at 13 11 14

We know it can be hard to ask for help if you think you or someone you care about is being treated badly with money, especially if it’s a family member. But please give us a call if you want to talk privately about protecting your money.

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To find out if our strategies are right for you, feel free to contact 360 Financial Strategists online or on 03 9427 0855.