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Types of financial abuse

Elder financial abuse can occur in a variety of ways. An adult child is the perpetrator of financial abuse in 47% of cases and a spouse or partner in 20%. Many forms of elder financial abuse are a criminal offence. Older people are entitled to the protection of the law in the same way as any other member of the public.


Here are some typical crimes of financial abuse:

  • Abuse or misuse of Power of Attorney whereby an appointed attorney steals your money or property
  • Theft of your purse/wallet or money from your purse/wallet
  • Theft of your personal property such as, jewellery, watch, furniture, ornaments, food
  • Theft of your identification, credit cards and bank cards
  • Theft of your mail, including bank or credit card statements and tax information
  • Forging of your signature
  • Marketers who approach you either by phone, post, email or at your door who announce that you have won a ‘prize’ but that you must pay money upfront to obtain the prize
  • Marketers who use scare tactics including bullying, blackmail or exaggerated claims in order to force you into sending money or providing them with your financial information such as your bank account details, credit card information and so on
  • Opening a bank account in your name without your knowledge or consent
  • Using counterfeit cheques to withdraw money from your account
  • Deceiving you into signing blank cheques, loan papers or withdrawal slips
  • Deceiving you into donating money to fake charities

Other harmful behaviours

Other types of financial abuse which may not be classified as a crime but which are harmful and abusive to an older person include:

  • Using your property or possessions without your permission
  • Promising care or other services in exchange for money or property and not following through on the promise
  • Threatening the withdrawal of care or other services unless money or property is given
  • Not contributing to the household expenses even though they share the house and avail of household utilities, such as heating, water, electricity, phone and so on
  • Somebody making decisions about how to spend your money without consulting you
  • Putting undue influence upon you to sign documents you do not understand such as, a deed, a power of attorney or a Will. Undue influence may take the form of deception, coercion and pressure. A person may put undue influence on you to:
    • Make or change your Will
    • Invest or take out money
    • Sell your personal property
    • Purchase alcohol or drugs



University College Dublin (UCD)National Centre for the Protection of Older People (NCPOP)Health Services Executive (HSE)Older People's Empowerment Network (OPEN)
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