Making decisions about what’s in your best interests can be difficult. You may feel bullied or pressured to make decisions against your wishes, such as signing documents, handing over assets or selling the family home. If you have experienced any of these situations, you may be at risk of elder abuse.
Financial abuse is the most common form of elder abuse and involves the improper or illegal use of an older person’s finances, assets or property by a person who they trust. Older people are often asked to help when family members are in financial difficulty and it’s sometimes difficult to say ‘no’.
Examples of financial abuse
Here are two examples of financial abuse:
Lorna’s fortnightly pension barely covers her living expenses. Lorna’s niece often asks to borrow money and promises to pay her back, but never does. Lorna wants to help her niece but she hardly has enough for herself. What can Lorna do?
John’s daughter has access to John’s credit card, and uses it to pay his bills. His daughter sometimes uses his credit card to pay her bills as well, without his knowledge. John notices that his credit card bills are significantly more than usual. What can John do?
Lorna and John can call Seniors Rights on 1300 368 821 for advice on what options are available for them.
Seniors Rights is a free helpline, legal, advocacy and referral service. It is a confidential service staffed by qualified and experienced people who can provide advice, information and support to older people experiencing elder abuse.
If you or someone you know is in an unsafe or life threatening situation you should ring Victoria Police on 000.
Abusive relationships other than those based on trust
The following do not fall under the scope of financial abuse but resources are available in other locations:
There are many different types of scams – online, phone, mail and face-to-face.
Online scams, such as email 'phishing' scams are on the rise and are designed to trick you into giving away your money, passwords and personal details such as your tax file number (TFN).
For more on how to protect yourself from online scams visit the Tech Savvy Seniors online section.
Protection from telemarketing
You can join the National Do Not Call Register.
This Register allows individuals to list their home, personal mobile or fax numbers to reduce telemarketing calls. Once numbers are listed on the register, telemarketers and fax marketers must not contact you.
Visit the National Do Not Call or register your details by phoning 1300 792 958.
For further information see Seeking advice or Links and Registers.
Consumer Affairs Victoria is the Victorian Government's consumer affairs regulator, and a business unit of the Department of Justice.
To learn more about your rights as a consumer, or to report scams, abuse and problems regarding the purchase of goods and services you can contact Consumer Affairs .
Your human rights
The Australian Human Rights Commission has some practical information on their website about your right to be free of financial abuse.
Visit the Human Rights for more information.
Visit the Respect Victoria for information and resources in other languages.
Reviewed 08 August 2022