While financial abuse can happen to anyone, older Canadians are at greater risk as they may find it harder to protect themselves from demands for money or other forms of financial abuse. Financial abuse is the most common form of elder abuse in Canada.
It can be difficult to recognize financial abuse especially as it can happen over a period of time. A warning sign may be when a friend, family member, or caregiver takes an undue interest or involvement in your financial matters.
Examples of financial abuse include when someone:
- Pressures you to make changes to your will, Power of Attorney, or other legal documents
- Takes your money or possessions without your knowledge or approval
- Fails to repay loans you’ve made to them
- Forces or tricks you into giving away money, property, or possessions
- Asks you to sign legal or financial documents that you don’t understand
Tips and safeguards:
- Store important documents and financial information in a safe place.
- Don’t share your personal identification number (PIN) or other access codes with anyone.
- Make sure you understand every document you sign and consider asking someone you trust for a second opinion before signing any contracts.
- If you’re facing a major financial decision such as selling your home or giving someone a loan, seek independent legal advice.
- Plan ahead and put in place arrangements for how your money and property will be handled if something happens to you and you lose the capacity to make financial decisions. A Power of Attorney can offer some protection. It is a legal document to appoint a person you trust to make decisions about your finances and property. You can find out more information about Powers of Attorney here.
- Be careful about setting up joint bank accounts as this means you and the other person both have full access to the money in that account.
What to do if you suspect financial abuse?
You can report financial abuse or any concerns about your safety to the police.
Ask for help from your local Seniors support agency:
- Alberta: Alberta Supports for Seniors
Victim Services Unit: 780-427-3460 or toll free by first dialling 310-0000
- British Columbia: Seniors First BC
Seniors Abuse and Information Line: 604-437-1940 or toll free 1-866-437-1940
- Manitoba: Manitoba Government – Seniors and Healthy Aging Seniors Abuse Support Line: 1-888-896-7183
- Newfoundland and Labrador: SeniorsNL
Information line: 709-737-2333 or toll free 1-800-563-5599
- New Brunswick: New Brunswick Government – Social Development Emergency Social Services: 1-800-442-9799
- Northwest Territories: NWT Seniors’ Society
Seniors Information Line: 1-800-661-0878
- Nova Scotia: Department of Seniors
Seniors Abuse Information and Referral Line: 902-424-3163 or toll free 1-877-833-3377
- Nunavut: Contact the social services or health centre in your community or the RCMP at: 1-867-979-0123
- Ontario: Elder Abuse Prevention
Seniors Safety Line: 1-866-299-1011
- Prince Edward Island: Prince Edward Island – Adult Protection Program
Adult Protection Line: 902-368-6717
- Quebec: Aide Abus Aines
Elder Mistreatment Helpline: 1-888-489-ABUS (2287)
- Saskatchewan: Seniors Mechanism
Seniors Neglect and Abuse Info Line: 306-359-9956 or toll free 1-888-823-2211
- Yukon: Yukon Government Services and Information
Seniors’ Services/Adult Protection Unit: 1-800-661-0408 (ext. 3946)
More information about financial abuse and how to best protect yourself against it can be found here: