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Helping you deal with financial abuse

It can happen to anyone, and it can be invisible. Financial abuse or harm can start with a small breach of trust and build over time. The impact can affect financial wellbeing long after the relationship is over.

If you or someone you know has lost control of their money to another person, we're here to help.

What is financial abuse?

Financial abuse, also called financial harm or economic harm, is when someone manipulates, threatens or pressures you to gain access to your money, property or assets. It exploits a power imbalance, is an abuse of trust, is often not technically illegal and causes psychological, not physical harm. It's recognised as a form of psychological abuse within the Family Violence Act and is also a common form of elder abuse. 

It could be happening right now to you or someone you love, and it can be hard to spot until it's too late. We understand, it can happen to anyone.

Signs you may be at risk of financial abuse

If you're experiencing things like this, you could be at risk:

  • No access to money or bank accounts or needing permission to use your money
  • No ability to make decisions about financial matters which are significant to you
  • Pressure to sign financial documents or to take out a loan, credit card or other debt in your name
  • Having your bank statements or other financial records taken or read without your knowledge
  • No knowledge of family debts or control over credit history

Protecting yourself from financial abuse

To help protect yourself:

  • Talk about finances with trusted family and friends

  • Never share your banking password or PIN details

  • Keep track of your finances by checking your transactions regularly to ensure there are no unauthorised transactions

  • Open your own mail

Seek independent advice before:

  • Signing contracts

  • Becoming a guarantor for someone

  • Making major decisions, such as selling your house

  • Appointing someone to act on your behalf by signing a Power of Attorney or giving someone access to your accounts

Resources you can tap into

If you don't have a lawyer, you can ask Community Law for advice, or one of the specialist organisations listed below.

Read our 'Safe and savvy' guide for helping older people avoid abuse, scams and fraud.

Studies shows that domestic and family violence increases in times of disaster and the COVID-19 pandemic has specific risks that could contribute to this. Our fact sheet explains what they are and what you can do to protect yourself. Have a look through our guide 'Family Violence, Impact of the coronavirus' for more information.

What we can do to help

Our team will support you to gain control of your money.

Your safety comes first. We'll keep our conversations private

Your safety comes first. Whatever we do, your safety is our priority. We'll avoid doing anything that could put you at risk. Everything we talk about will be private and confidential.

We'll take you through your accounts

If you feel out of control of your money, we can go through your accounts with you. We can show you how much money you have, where it's going, and any debts you might have.

We'll show you how to use mobile and internet banking

If you're not 100% confident using your smartphone or your computer to do your banking, we can help. You can come in to a branch, or you can watch our step-by-step guides online.

We can set up new safe accounts for you

We can open a new bank account for you. Your new account will be separate from any of your existing accounts. Unless someone has access to your online banking using your username and password, they won't be able to see it. We can also help you change your login password.

We can stop others accessing your accounts

If it's safe to do so, we can change your online banking passwords and your card PINs so that only you can access your accounts. If someone else has gained access to your accounts, we may be able to remove them.

We'll set up a safe way to communicate with us

We can set up a different mailing address for you, for things like new cards and statements. Instead of sending them to your home, we can send them to the address of a friend or family member you trust.

Our Financial Assistance team can help

If you're experiencing financial difficulty or have concerns about meeting your repayments, you can speak to one of our Financial Assistance specialists.

We can refer you to specialist organisations

With your consent we can refer you to organisations who can provide specialist help and support, or we can provide you with their contact details.

If you're at risk, ask for help as soon as you can

If you or someone you know is being harmed there are specialist organisations that can help you. When you're in a safe place, call them or visit their website. You could also use a public computer at a local library.

Family and Domestic Violence

All of these helplines are confidential.

Elder Abuse Response Service

Help for the elderly suffering financial harm, or those who care about them. You can call 0800 326 68 65 7 days a week, 24 hours a day.

Financial mentoring and debt management

  • Good Shepherd
    Help with financial wellbeing support and debt management.

    0800 466 370

  • MoneyTalks
    Free, confidential budgeting advice, financial mentoring and other community services.

    0800 345 123

Returning to financial wellbeing

We're committed to your financial wellbeing. Financial wellbeing is about having a healthy relationship with your money and being in control. It's a journey, and everyone takes a few steps backward along the way. 

We want every New Zealander to achieve financial wellbeing. Our online tools can help you with budgeting, saving, borrowing and more.

Financial wellbeing

The information and tools suggested are intended to provide general information only. It is not financial advice and does not take into consideration your personal needs and financial circumstances. You should consider seeking financial advice before making any decision based on this information.