What is financial Abuse?
Financial Abuse includes a number of different scenarios. Below are examples, but the list is not exhaustive:
- Theft of money or possessions
- Fraud, scamming
- Preventing a person from accessing their own money, benefits or assets
- Employees taking a loan from a person using the service
- Undue pressure, duress, threat or undue influence put on the person in connection with loans, wills, property, inheritance or financial transactions
- Arranging less care than is needed to save money to maximise inheritance
- Denying assistance to manage/monitor financial affairs
- Denying assistance to access benefits
- Misuse of personal allowance in a care home
- Misuse of benefits or direct payments in a family home
- Someone moving into a person’s home and living rent free without agreement or under duress
- False representation, using another person's bank account, cards or documents
- Exploitation of a person’s money or assets, e.g. unauthorised use of a car
- Misuse of a power of attorney, deputy, appointeeship or other legal authority
- Rogue trading – e.g. unnecessary or overpriced property repairs and failure to carry out agreed repairs or poor workmanship
Mate Crimes are not limited to financial abuse, and there are other forms of Mate Crimes such as cuckooing, physical abuse and sexual abuse. One form of Mate Crime is Financial Abuse such as exploitation and theft. Mate Crime is defined as the exploitation, abuse or theft from any person at risk from those they consider to be their friends. Those that commit such abuse or theft are often referred to as ‘fake friends’
Norfolk Safeguarding Adults Board made a short, animated film about Tricky Friends which has been adapted by Warrington Safeguarding Adults Board for use in Warrington:
A money lender has to be authorised by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) to lend money legally. Money lenders who aren’t authorised by the FCA are breaking the law. They are known as loan sharks.
Loan sharks often work from home, charge very high rates of interest and don't give the individual much paperwork to confirm the arrangements they've made with the person. A loan shark usually has lots of customers and lends money like a business, but their lending is illegal.
Loan sharks often take other illegal action to collect the money they've lent the person such as threatening violence or taking away the individuals credit cards or valuables. In extreme cases, they've been known to force non-payers into prostitution and drug dealing.
In England, if you think a money lender is operating without being FCA authorised, advice and support can be obtained from speaking in confidence to the Illegal Money Lending Hotline on 0300 555 2222 or via email to the Illegal Money Lending Team at reportaloanshark
The England Illegal Money Lending Team (Stop Loan Sharks) website has really useful information in recognising the signs of a loan shark, support available, how to contact the team, and the mechanism to report a loan shark anonymously online: www.stoploansharks.co.uk
Know the signs of Financial Abuse
Possible signs or indicators of financial abuse include:
- unexplained shortage of money or inability to maintain usual lifestyle
- unexplained or unusual bank activity, for example, large withdrawals of funds
- lack of cooperation and/or evasiveness by the person authorised to manage financial affairs
- rent arrears, eviction notices or other debts
- regular visits from door-to-door traders or frequent cold-calls on the phone
- failure to provide receipts or clear financial accounts for someone carrying out financial transactions on behalf of the person
Please note that if the person who is being financial abused is ‘Personally Connected’ to the person abusing them then this constitutes Domestic Abuse (s1 & s2 Domestic Abuse Act 2021).
Action Fraud is the UK national reporting centre for fraud and cyber crime where you should report fraud if you have been scammed, defrauded or experience cyber crime in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. You can make a report to Action Fraud via the website (www.actionfraud.police.uk). Alternatively, telephone an Action Fraud Advisor on 0300 123 2040.
Lasting Power of Attorney and Office of the Public Guardian
Some of our service users/patients will have Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA) for Property & Financial Affairs in place. This means that the person has donated their Lasting Power of Attorney to someone, and the powers of this comes into effect either when the person loses capacity regarding decisions that relate to their finances or issues to do with housing and properties or as soon as the LPA is registered even if they still have mental capacity to manage their affairs, if this is what they chose. Examples of decisions that the attorney can take are more complex decisions such as ending a tenancy or sell a property. They can also make day-to-day decisions such as managing payments and bills.
If you as a practitioner is worried about the LPA not acting in the best interest of the donor, you can raise a concern with the Office of the Public Guardian using this link Report a concern about an attorney, deputy or guardian - GOV.UK (www.gov.uk) Further guidance is provided here on what you need to include. If you need support with this, please contact Trust Mental Capacity Act Team and/or the Safeguarding Duty Hub to discuss your concerns.
It is important to note that there is a commonly held belief that the Next of Kin (NoK) can make decisions on behalf of someone who lacks mental capacity, this is not the case. A NoK would be consulted on best interests decisions (unless there’s reason not to such as safeguarding concerns) but they do not have the power of a LPA.
Appointeeship is granted by DWP. This applies to benefits only and Appointeeship cannot be used to manage someone’s savings or property affairs. Some local authorities will become corporate appointee for individuals with care and support needs whether they live in the community or not, whereas some local authorities will only become appointee for individuals residing in residential care. A family member or close friend can become an appointee, but there are also agencies that applications can be made to for them to take on appointeeship but this will have a cost to it.
If you have a concern about an appointee and that they are not acting in the best interest of the person who the are appointed for, please contact Trust Safeguarding Adults Team or speak directly to the Local Authority Safeguarding Adults Team so an action plan can be agreed on moving forward. It may be that your concerns needs to be shared with the DWP.
England Illegal Money Lending Team (Loan Sharks)