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Warning signs of abuse

Elder financial abuse can be difficult to detect, not least because there is often no outward physical sign or manifestation of abuse. Some warning signs which might trigger your suspicion that you are being financially abused include:

  • Somebody has asked you to sign papers that you did not understand
  • Somebody else has control of, or access to, your accounts without your full permission
  • You are dissatisfied with how somebody is helping you manage your finances, or you do not understand the investment statements
  • You feel pressurised to allow someone else access your accounts
  • Someone else is making a decision about how your money is being spent without speaking with you first
  • You feel that you have lost control over your money
  • Your money is being spent by someone else for things other than your personal needs, such as food, clothing, bills and so on
  • You feel pressurised to give money, property or possessions to someone else as a ‘gift’ or otherwise
  • Somebody is withholding portions of cheques cashed on your behalf or pension payments claimed on your behalf
  • Valuable household items, such as your jewellery, furniture or ornaments have gone missing
  • Somebody is using your property or possessions without your permission
  • Somebody has forged your signature
  • Somebody has contacted you either by phone, post, email or on your doorstep and announced that you have won a prize but that you must pay money in order to receive it

It is also important to keep a protective eye on other older people that you know who may be targeted for elder financial abuse, such as your neighbours, friends or relatives. Some of the warning signs or indicators of financial abuse in other older people include:

  • The person has become anxious and/or confused about their finances or their possessions
  • The person has unmet physical or care needs such as a lack of food, medication, heating, electricity, clothing and so on
  • You may notice a change in spending patterns or habits, such as not shopping for food/clothing as regularly as before
  • The person may suddenly or inexplicably be unable to pay their bills
  • There is a sudden or unexplained withdrawal of money from their accounts
  • There is a sudden or unexplained change in banking patterns
  • The person may start declining invitations to social events they previously attended
  • The person may alter their own hospitality practices, such as they may stop inviting people to their house
  • There are unexplained missing items from the person’s home, such as furniture, ornaments or jewellery


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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