Love and Money: 6 Signs of Financial Abuse You Shouldn’t Ignore

Signs of financial abuse

woman apologizing during an argument

Couple arguing | iStock.com/Wavebreakmedia

Are you or a loved one being financially abused? Here are some of the signs.

1. Isolation

A financial abuser will try to isolate his or her victim so that the abuse goes unnoticed by friends and family members. This helps prolong the abuse and strengthen the abuser’s power. Private investigator John Nardizzi, founder of Nardizzi & Associates, said vulnerable, trusting people are highly susceptible to falling prey to this behavior. “Isolation is a key sign: a con man (or woman) slides into the orbit of someone’s life and suddenly is in charge of that person’s finances. Elderly people who live alone and do not have family around are vulnerable, but also men and women who are overly trusting, maybe lacking assertiveness, and in a new relationship,” Nardizzi told The Cheat Sheet.

2. Unusual bank activity

Have you noticed bank activity that hadn’t been occurring before? If so, this is a red flag. Couch said this is one of the first signs of trouble. “Pay attention to unusual activity in bank or investment accounts that were not happening before, or transfers of funds out of your accounts to unknown accounts,” warns Couch.

3. Workplace harassment

Some abusers will attempt to harass their significant other at work. They make unwanted office visits in a ploy to get their partner fired. Once the job loss occurs, the abuser may try to stop the victim from getting another job. Consequently, the victim has no other choice but to depend on the abuser for financial survival.

4. Monitoring income

Financial abusers will keep close tabs on how much their partner makes. The abuser may reason or explain to their victim that they are just watching out for his or her well-being, when in fact, the abuser is making plans to take control of the money. Certified Financial Planner Michael Maynes said abusers sometimes try to present themselves as caretakers so that their intentions are hidden. “Signs of financial abuse include the abuser portraying himself as a “caretaker,” and building trust before taking over control of bill paying accounts, while simultaneously building barriers between victims and family members,” Maynes told The Cheat Sheet.

5. Forcing financial decisions

If your loved one is pressuring you to make a financial decision you’re not comfortable with, this may be another sign of trouble. Robert Baltzell, founder of RLB Financial said this is just one of several types of financially abusive behavior. “There are many different types of financial abuse. Taking property and forging a signature are two very common forms. Also, pressuring someone to sign a deed, will, power of attorney, or other legal document. Other forms include using scare tactics or exaggerated claims to get the victim to send or turn over money, like a phone or charity scam,” Baltzell told The Cheat Sheet.

6. Theft and misuse of property

A financial abuser will go to great lengths to assume control over a victim. Certified Financial Planner Chris Cooper told The Cheat Sheet that financial abuse can be as brazen as outright theft. “Some financial abusers will use the car, house, or other property without compensating the victim for their use or in a manner harmful to the victim (such as holding the victim hostage). He or she may engage in other thefts, or conversion of property, such as retitling bank accounts, brokerage accounts, houses, and cars in another name,” said Cooper.