Saturday 7 December 2019

Warnings go unheeded as one in five is subjected to financial abuse

Stock photo: PA
Stock photo: PA
Charlie Weston

Charlie Weston

Older people have been called on to plan ahead to safeguard their finances after a new survey found thousands of people have experience of financial abuse.

The survey uncovered that one in five adults say they have been subjected to the unauthorised use of their money.

This is currently happening to them or has occurred in the past.

However, the survey found older people were the least likely to be concerned about the threat of being financially abused. This is despite being one of the most vulnerable groups.

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Experts said the message was not getting through about the risks of elder financial abuse. Financial abuse is notoriously difficult to detect as it is often subtle and happens in secret.

It is defined as the unauthorised and improper use of funds, property or any resources including pensions, or others statutory entitlements or benefits.

Financial abuse involves an act, or acts, where a person is deprived of control of their finances or personal possessions or are being exploited financially by another person or persons.

The survey was conducted by the Banking and Payments Federation and Safeguarding Ireland, an organisation funded by the HSE to promote the protection of adults who may be vulnerable.

Questions asked of 1,000 people reveal that one in 10 say someone had used their property or possessions without their permission.

Some 8pc of respondents said an income-earning adult living with them refused to contribute to household bills.

And a minority said someone was making decisions about their money without consulting them.

The survey found 4pc said they had money taken or used from a joint account without their agreement.

However, some 43pc said they were not concerned about experiencing financial abuse in the future. Older people emerged as the least concerned.

Safeguarding Ireland said this highlighted that a large cohort do not perceive it as a real risk that could affect them. But the same percentage said they were concerned financial abuse could happen to them in the future.

Louise O'Mahony, of the Banking and Payments Federation, said the findings showed financial abuse was happening at a higher incidence than many people realised.

"Too many adults, particularly older people, aren't concerned and think it won't happen to them," she said.

Safeguarding Ireland Chairperson Patricia Rickard-Clarke stressed the importance of all adults planning ahead to avoid financial abuse, particularly older people.

Irish Independent

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