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Adult Safeguarding Day - Being Aware of Financial Abuse

Community 2 min read

18 Nov 2021

Adult Safeguarding Day is an initiative coordinated by Safeguarding Ireland in partnership with organisations across the health, social, financial and justice sectors. The aim is to raise a greater awareness and understanding of safeguarding with respect to 1) rights 2) services and 3) empowerment.

In its inaugural year, here at the credit union, we hope to see this day continue for many years to come, as we are not just a financial institution, but a community based not for profit organisation, who put the needs of our members at the forefront of everything we do.

The Operating Principles of the credit union prioritise the economic and social well-being of all members through their vision of social justice, and wider benefit of this to the local community.


Being Aware of Financial Abuse

According to the Health Service Executive (HSE), financial abuse “includes theft, fraud, exploitation; pressure in connection with wills, property, inheritance or financial transactions; or the misuse or misappropriation of property, possessions or benefits.”
Examples of financial abuse

  •  Theft of money;

  •  The use of another person’s identity in relation to credit and bank cards;

  •  Forging someone else’s signature; » Use of counterfeit cheques or being tricked into signing blank cheques.

  •  It can also take the form of harmful behaviour, for example:

    • Being pressured to sign documents or change your will;    

    • Threatening to withdraw care unless money or property is provided.

  • Abusing a third party authority or general power of attorney, by acting outside of the authorised powers or by continuing to transact where the member has lost their mental capacity;

  • Not contributing to the household expenses even though they share the house with you and use household utilities such as heating, water, electricity, phone and so on;

  • Making decisions about how to spend your money without consulting you;

  • Putting undue influence upon you to sign documents you do not understand such as a deed, a power of attorney or a will. Undue influence may take the form of deception, coercion or pressure. A person may put undue influence on you to:

    • make or change your will or nomination

    • invest or take out money;

    • sell your personal property; or

    • buy alcohol or drugs.

  • Opening a bank account in your name without your knowledge or consent;

  • Using counterfeit cheques to withdraw money from your account.

There are many financial abuses that are also crimes. These are examples of crimes that may be committed by people we know and trust.

How can the credit union help me protect myself from financial abuse?

 As mentioned above, if you have any concerns that you are the subject of financial abuse, the credit union are happy to assist you in dealing with this very serious issue, in whatever way we can. We are very aware of the need to safeguard your money, so if there are red flags in relation to financial abuse, the credit union will act quickly and sensitively.

What will my credit union do if I am concerned about financial abuse?

  • The staff will be happy to meet with you privately to discuss your concerns, and will try to find a solution with you to the problem. If you are cocooning or quarantining, the staff can make alternative arrangements.

  • If staff believe that you may not be acting of your own free will, they may ask to speak to you alone, and can take any instructions from you regarding your account.

  • If there is another person putting pressure on you to your withdraw money, the credit union can help you circumvent the transaction in a sensitive way which protects you and protects your money.

  • If staff suspect financial abuse, they will discuss a number of options with you in how to deal with it:

    • They may contact you to verify your authority or to discuss any recent changes in transactions on your account.

    • They may seek your permission to contact other parties to help you such as your solicitor, the Health Service Executive Safeguarding Office, a family member, or a trusted friend, An Garda Síochána or the Decision Support Service. It is open to you to contact any of the above parties at any time, but the credit union is happy to contact them on your behalf if you so wish.

If you need to contact your credit union to discuss any matter, you can find their details on our Credit Union Locator. Once the credit union is made aware of the circumstances involved, we will do everything possible to ensure that you continue to be in control of your credit union affairs, and that your funds are well-safeguarded.