How to identify and prevent financial abuse

By Andrew Rickard | March 28 2016 02:04PM

If someone has ever put pressure on you to give them money, or forged your signature on cheques or legal documents, you may be a victim of financial abuse.

On March 21, the Canadian Bankers Association (CBA) issued a press release to clarify what may constitute financial abuse. The CBA says that abuse takes place "when someone tries to take or control what belongs to you for their own benefit, not yours", and notes that abuse may involve not only money, but also property or personal information. The perpetrator is often someone that the victim trusts such as a spouse, child, grandchild, or other family member. The abuser may also be a caregiver, friend, or neighbour.

Seniors vulnerable

The CBA notes that seniors in particular may be vulnerable to this type of abuse, and recommends that people protect themselves by trying to do as many financial transactions as possible on their own, by not giving in to pressure when someone asks them for money, and by making sure they understand the contents of every document they sign.

“Banks are very aware of the growing incidence of financial abuse and understand they play an important role in raising awareness on the issue, including providing information about what their clients can do to protect themselves from financial abuse,” comments Maura Drew-Lytle, director of media relations and communications at the CBA. “It is important that consumers are aware of how financial abuse happens and recognize the signs to avoid becoming a victim.”