What is Financial Abuse
Financial abuse is a way of controlling a person’s ability to acquire, use and maintain their own financial resources.
In an intimate relationship, financial abuse is considered to be a form of domestic abuse. Domestic abuse involves one partner obtaining power, control and undermining the other partner, through physical, sexual, psychological and financial abuse. In short, financial abuse is when a current (or former) partner prevents you from earning or accessing your own money.
Issues range from controlling a current partner’s finances and non-payment of a mortgage to the point of repossession, to running up thousands of pounds of debt in a former partner’s name, or using financial data to track them down outside a branch or a cash point.
- Stealing money from a partner
- Preventing a partner from accessing their own/joint account
- Damaging possessions which then have to be replaced
- Insisting benefits are in their name
- Putting debts in a partner’s name
- Stopping a partner from going to work
- This abuse can also continue post-separation
Financial abuse can manifest itself in multiple ways, with 62% of cases being reported by women, according to joint research by the Co-op and Refuge, a charity that supports abuse survivors.
“Financial abuse does not discriminate – it can happen to anyone and whether you or a person you know is a victim of financial abuse, taking those first steps to seek help is very brave. The financial services industry can play a key role in helping combat financial abuse, offering support to victims to help them regain control of their money.”
UK Finance managing director of personal finance Eric Leenders
Financial Abuse Code of Conduct
UK Finance, a trade association for the sector, announced its first voluntary financial abuse code of conduct. It will be rolled out over the next 12 months, and 11 banks and building societies have signed up, including Barclays, HSBC, Santander, RBS, Nationwide and Lloyds. The new code will focus on six key areas:
- Raising awareness and encouraging disclosure
- Training of colleagues
- Identification and appropriate response
- Minimising the need to repeat the story in one organisation
- Help to regain control of finances; signposting and referral
How to Protect yourself From Financial Abuse
We understand that this advice is easier said than done, however, if you can:
- Dissociate yourself from joint financial arrangements where possible. And try to obtain a notice of disassociation from the three main credit reference agencies (Experian, Callcredit and Equifax).
- Open accounts online. Use passwords and security that your partner won’t know.
- Register with cifas protection, which requires your verification if credit is applied for in your name.
- If a partner has taken out credit your name, consider a fraud alert or credit freeze.
- Keep an emergency private fund.