What protection do I have against financial abuse and fraud?

Financial abuse, another name for stealing or defrauding someone of their goods and/or property, is a crime frequently committed against vulnerable older people. However, it can often be difficult for an older person to address, either because the perpetrator is a family member, or because the victim is afraid of not being taken seriously.

The government has taken positive steps in recent years to address this issue, giving financial abuse a legal definition in 2015 via the Care Act (a policy designed to protect people who are not able to look after themselves in some way), and through strict guidelines from the Ministry of Justice for anyone who is helping another individual with their finances. These guidelines apply equally to anyone helping you handle your money, regardless of whether they are an appointed attorney, a court-appointed deputy, or just a friend or family member giving you informal help.

The best protection that you can give yourself (and anyone who is helping you) is to create a Legal Power of Attorney (LPA) with the assistance of a specialist solicitor. You can create separate LPAs to cover decisions relating to your property and finances, and to your health and welfare. The process of creating an LPA with a solicitor minimises the risk of fraud and financial abuse by ensuring that both you and your attorney(s) are fully aware of your respective rights and obligations, now and in the future.

If you are worried that you are at risk of financial abuse and want to discuss your concerns or get some advice, contact the Action on Elder Abuse helpline on 080 8808 8141.