Financial abuse can take place in any relationship. In recent cases we’ve come across children who’ve abused their parent’s goodwill - as they recognise their feelings of being responsible for their child’s economic wellbeing and this is can be taken advantage of. In the poor current economic climate with many adult children becoming more desperate they may try to exploit their parents to make financial gains. Often vulnerable relatives may be targeted and methods of charm, flattery or attentiveness used. Or abuse can happen by outright theft as well as forgery. A recent Fair Money Advice client, Carol (not her real name), was a victim of financial abuse and Fair Money Advice were able to help with just one phone call. This is how we helped her.
When Carol found out her mischievous daughter had taken out a mobile phone contract in her name and been using it for the past four years without her knowing she immediately rang up to cancel it. The contract had missed payments on it of £86 and out of her good will Carol paid this for her daughter. Surely that was the end of it but no!
Two months later Carol received a letter to say she had an outstanding balance of £90 on the same contract. Turns out the contract wasn’t cancelled at all! This is when she came to Fair Money Advice. Her adviser called the complaints department of the company and found out that when she made the payment last time she had spoke to the collections department and although she had been told the account would be closed it hadn’t been.
Carol’s adviser made her situation clear to the complaints department and they were able to clear the outstanding balance in Carol’s name and asked them to send a confirmation letter this time to confirm the contract had been cancelled. Credit agencies were also informed to ensure this didn’t go on Carol’s record. Unfortunately, the previous debt Carol had paid on behalf of her daughter showed up on Carol’s personal credit file and appeared as a debt. This is what happens financial abuse is not reported as a fraudulent activity. However, with this new debt Carol’s FMA adviser ensured this wasn’t the case this time. As a homeowner if this debt had gone unknown and piled up it could potentially have serious consequences such as repossession.
Carol was really relieved to have her debt cleared when she left the office and thankful to Fair Money Advice for all their help. Financial abuse is a serious issue which can be linked to emotional and physical abuse and can often affect the isolated and vulnerable in society such as the elderly. It is not only committed by children to parents but can also happen the other way round or in a relationship where one partner is abusive to the other. It is good for us to be aware of this abuse so we can recognise if it is happening to ourselves or if we are committing it on others.