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Financial abuse

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Financial abuse

What is financial abuse?

Financial abuse is a type of family violence. It often happens alongside other types of violence, such as physical or emotional abuse. It can leave you feeling vulnerable, isolated, depressed, and anxious. It can also take away your independence.

Financial abuse is when someone takes away your access to money, manipulates your financial decisions, or uses your money without consent.

Financial abuse can happen to anyone. The abuser could be your partner, or ex-partner, a family member, carer, or friend.

Elder financial abuse is also a serious problem. Older people can be especially vulnerable to financial abuse. This is because they often depend on others for help with financial tasks and decisions.

Financial abuse is a form of domestic and family violence. It occurs where an abuser uses money and/or financial resources to control their partner. Creating financial dependency is one of the most powerful tools an abuser has to keep someone trapped in an abusive relationship. Some examples of financial abuse include where the perpetrator:

  • Controls how household money is spent.
  • Controls finances, stealing/withholding money, or coercing someone into debt.
  • Runs up large amounts of debt on joint accounts.
  • Hides assets.
  • Steals the victim-survivor’s identity, property, or inheritance.
  • Forces the victim-survivor to work in a family business without pay.
  • Refuses to pay bills and negatively impacts the victim-survivor’s credit score.
  • Doesn’t allow access to bank accounts.
  • Forces the victim-survivor to turn over government benefits or threatens to report the victim for “cheating or misusing benefits.”
  • Files false insurance claims.
  • Runs up a victim-survivor’s credit card balance.
  • Forces a victim-survivor to take out loans.
  • Opens loans and credit cards in a partner’s name.
  • Refinances a home or car without the victim-survivor’s knowledge and/or consent.
  • Forces a victim-survivor to sign financial documents, such as life insurance.

What is the difference between financial abuse and economic abuse?

Economic abuse is wider than financial abuse.

It can include restricting access to things such as food, clothing and transport and denying or sabotaging the resources to improve a person’s economic status such as through employment or education. Some examples of economic abuse include the perpetrator:

  • Sabotaging the victim-survivor’s work or employment opportunities.
  • Forbidding the victim-survivor to work or from attending job trainings.
  • Refusing to work or contribute to the family income.
  • Forcing the victim-survivor to act dishonestly.
  • Refusing to pay or evading child support.
  • Manipulating the property settlement processes by drawing it out, hiding or failing to disclose assets.

I want to separate from my partner, but he controls the finances, who can help me?

You can contact a financial counsellor in your area who can support you with exit planning.

You can also call the National Debt Helpline on 1800 007 007 who will connect you with a specialised domestic and family violence financial counsellor.

I am separating, what financial assistance is available to me?

Who What Time limitations Amount
Centrelink Crisis Payment Available in exceptional
circumstances including DFV (and other circumstances).
Within 7 days
Uniting Care Any Australian citizen or resident,
over 18 years old, experiencing
violence from an intimate partner.
Within 12 weeks* Up to $5,000
Victim’s Assist Queensland Helps victim-survivors recover from specified acts of violence in Queensland. Within 3 years of act of violence Up to $75,000
Red cross family & DV financial assistance Available to people on temporary visas who are experiencing DFV. Up to $5,000
Flexible assistance program Enquire through Dept of Housing. Supports people to purchase specified home goods. Up to $5,000 per adult
Home Energy Emergency Assistance Scheme (HEEAS) Assists Queensland households experiencing difficulty paying electricity or gas. Once every 2 years Up to $720
Concession card People with a valid concession card (or seniors card) are entitled to discounts with vehicle registration; public transport; electricity; and gas.
Public dentist Public dental services available for eligible Queenslanders.
Spectacle scheme Free basic prescription glasses to eligible Queenslanders. Once every 2 years
School transport assistance Assistance with school transport costs to eligible Queensland students.
FairPlay Voucher towards children’s sport and active recreation membership, registration or participation fees (with registered providers). 1 voucher, per child, per calendar year $150

*Within the last 12 weeks of applying, there must also have been a change of residence for the victim-survivor due to intimate partner violence; or the victim-survivor remains in the home and the perpetrator has left the home; or the victim-survivor has a safe plan in place to move soon (including from a refuge or other temporary accommodation). The victim-survivor must also be experiencing financial stress.

If you are unsure about where to start, you can contact 1800 RESPECT on 1800 737 732.

Credit reports

I have been asked to provide a credit report, how can I access this?

Your credit report is a record of your credit history. It includes things like your credit rating, the credit products you hold, and your repayment history.

Credit providers look at your credit history to decide whether to give you credit or lend you money.

Some credit reporting agencies may provide your credit score for free.

Contact these credit reporting agencies for your free credit report:

I did my credit report and there are debts listed which are unknown to me, what can I do?

If you discover an error on your credit report, follow the instructions provided with your credit report on how to correct errors. You can report errors to any of the credit reporting agencies by:

  • Calling the credit agency.
  • Using the dispute portal when you get your credit report.
  • Sending written correspondence, including documentation, to the appropriate agency.

A debt collector is calling me, what can I do?

If a debt collector contacts you, it’s your responsibility to:

  • Be honest about your financial situation, including other debts.
  • Reply in good time to calls or letters.
  • Agree to a payment plan if you can afford it.
  • Tell the debt collector if your contact details change.

If you have not accrued the debt and it is a result of financial abuse you can dispute the debt. Call a financial counsellor if you need support disputing a debt.

I’ve been told to speak to a financial counsellor. What do they do? How can they help me?

Financial counsellors are qualified professionals who provide information, advice and advocacy to people in financial difficulty.

Their services are non-judgmental, free, independent and confidential.

Financial counsellors are based in community organisations throughout Australia, from large charities to smaller community centres, as well as local government agencies.

I want to better manage my money, where do I start?

Figuring out how to manage your money begins with learning how to examine your expenses and income, how to create a budget, and how to find opportunities to save money.

  • Examine your expenses.
  • Examine your income.
  • Create a budget.
  • Find ways to save money.
  • Understand your credit report.
  • Assess your debt.
  • Put money in savings.
  • Don’t forget tax planning.

Visit with free spreadsheets to download.

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