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Financial abuse and scams

What is Financial abuse? 

 “The unauthorised and improper use of funds, property or any resources belonging to another individual.” 

It includes 

  • theft, fraud and exploitation, 
  • pressure in connection with wills, property, inheritance or financial transactions, misuse or misappropriation of property, assets, possessions, savings, capital or benefits. 
  • SCAMS and other forms of fraud, both on line, postal and door stop crimes 

Watch Margaret’s story to see how easily she was conned


Types of financial abuse may include: 

  • Theft i.e. money or possessions stolen, borrowed or withheld without permission. · Wrongfully controlling access to money or benefits. 
  • Preventing someone buying goods, services or leisure activities. 
  • Money being absorbed into a care home or household budget without the person’s consent. 
  • Being deliberately overcharged for goods or services, or being asked to part with money under false pretences. 
  • Not providing the care (1 to 1 and shared hours) but charging the client. 
  • Carrying out unnecessary work and / or overcharging. 
  • Postal, telephone and internet scams where the person has interacted with someone and has lost money. 
  • Unlicensed money lending (loan sharks) i.e. being offered a loan on very bad terms. 
  • Staff or volunteers borrowing money, or accepting gifts or money from clients. 
  • Misuse of a person’s assets by professionals 
  • Altering ownership of property without consent. 
  • Exerting undue influence to give away assets. 
  • Pressure in connection with wills, property, inheritance, possessions or benefits. 
  • Putting undue pressure on the person to accept lower-cost / lower quality services in order to preserve more financial resources to be passed to beneficiaries on death. 
  • Misuse of powers of attorney. 

The impact of financial abuse should not be underestimated and can be every bit as significant as physical abuse. Even small losses have the potential for significant impact when considered in context with a person’s overall wealth / income and whether or not they have access to the right support. 

The negative impact of financial abuse, regardless of the source, can leave people unsettled and without the confidence to live independently. It can cause the person who previously did not have a need for social care services to deteriorate to the level at which they require services. How does financial abuse affect someone? 

A person may experience any of the following: 

  • Depression / anxiety 
  • Distress 
  • Anger 
  • Embarrassment / loss of self-esteem 
  • Self-blame – decline in mental health 
  • Denial / fear 
  • Betrayal 
  • Stress and Loss of confidence to live independently 
  • Deterioration in physical health (leading to premature death) 
  • Social isolation 
  • More vulnerable to further exploitation 
  • Inability to replace lost savings due to lack of earning potential 

When financial abuse is reported all agencies must respond quickly to minimise the harm and abuse as follows: 

  • All suspicions or incidents of financial abuse of a vulnerable adult MUST be reported to Buckinghamshire Safeguarding Adults Team (MASH) as the lead agency for Safeguarding adults. 
  • Suspicions or incidents of financial abuse of a vulnerable adult MUST be reported to the police if this is the wish of the individual. 
  • Priority MUST be given by all agencies to participate in safeguarding adults multi agency planning meeting so a multi-agency plan to protect and investigate the concerns can take place. 
  • The individual’s views and wishes must be ascertained as quickly as possible. 
  • Individuals must be made aware of the concerns and the possible consequences. They must be supported to make informed decisions – this may be by the provision of information and/or the support of an advocate. 
  • Individual capacity, if in question, must be assessed. 
  • Take immediate action to protect the individual from further harm and abuse.
  • Work closely with the police to ensure vulnerable adults can make a complaint and give a statement – this may include accessing advocates, interpreters, speech and language therapists, victim support etc. 
  • Consider what other forms of abuse may also be present. Financial abuse is often accompanied by emotional abuse and neglect, self neglectt and sometimes physical abuse. 

There are two main types of scams 

  • A mass marketing scam is a misleading or deceptive business practice where the person is ‘cold-called’ (unsolicited or uninvited contact) by letter, email, phone or advertisement and false promises are made to obtain money. 
  • A doorstep scam is where victims are cold-called at their homes and persuaded to part with money. 

Other scams may include:

QR Jacking – Quick Response (QR) codes are widely used now, but some criminals or sticking their own QR code on to legitimate ones. For example, a fake QR code can be put on a parking meter, electric charging point or even on a restaurant menu. The unsuspecting victim uses the code to access what is presumed to be a genuine website to pay for parking, car charging or for a meal. However, although the website may look authentic, it has been set up by scammers. When the victim enters their bank details to make a payment, this information is quickly siphoned off by the scammer and used to steal money from the victim’s bank account. Alternatively, the scammer may use this personal information to trick the victim at a later date. They may phone and pretend to be from their bank – and knowing the victim’s personal information gives their story an air of legitimacy.

Courier fraud -Contact is initiated via a phone call pretending to be your bank or police. You will be asked to assist in carrying out an internal fraud investigation. They’ll ask you to go to your bank to withdraw a large amount of cash to see if the money is counterfeit. The bank or police will never ask you to assist in an investigation.

Fake emails and texts – you may receive an email or text from a well known delivery company claiming they have been unable to deliver your parcel and ask you to click on a link to arrange for the parcel to be delivered and you will be asked to confirm your personal or financial information. Other fake emails can state that you’ve been in contact with someone with Covi and that you need to arrange for a test. Another example is you receive a Whatsapp from a friend or a family member claiming they have changed their phone number and need financial help.

Online Romance Scams – Online dating and social media is a popular way to meet people, however some profiles may not be genuine and these people will play on your emotions to get hold of your money or to get you to do things that you are not comfortable with. Don’t be convinced by the profile picture. You can check photos using a reverse image through websites such as If they avoid meeting you in person or let you see them face to face in a video, it could be a scam. Avoid sending money to anyone you haven’t met and never agree to receive money on behalf of them and transfer it on. Never do anything that makes you feel uncomfortable.

Watch Katies story below

Signs of a scam 

  • an opportunity comes out of the blue or from someone you don’t know 
  • something sounds out of the ordinary – such as winning the lottery, or being invited to invest in an ‘amazing’ scheme which must be kept secret 
  • you are asked to pay for something in advance – especially by bank transfer 
  • you are asked for personal information – such as bank details, computer passwords or PIN numbers 
  • you are pressured into buying something or making a decision quickly – a trustworthy company will be happy to wait 
  • you are asked to phone an expensive number – these usually start with 070, 084, 087, 090, 091 or 098

If you believe you have been scammed 

 If you think you have been scammed, report it to the Action Fraud: 0300 123 2040 

If you need advice, call Citizens Advice Consumer Helpline: 0808 223 1133. 

If you are in immediate danger, contact the police on 999. 

Contact your bank if you think you have been financially scammed. 

Age UK run a telephone support service [for older people and carers] 01865 411288 

Adult Social Services Safeguarding Adults Team 
Telephone: 01708 433550
Fax: 01708 432497

Other agencies who can help are 

  • Police – 999 or 101 
  • MASH – 0800 137 915 
  • Trading Standards – 01296 383212