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Are You a Victim of Financial Abuse?

Recognize the signs — and fight back

"Among family members, there's an enormous sense of entitlement by people who feel like, 'I'm going to get the money anyway [after mom or dad dies],' " Duane says. "So they see themselves as 'borrowing' from their future inheritance."

Do you fit the profile of an elder abuse victim?

You're in a financially abusive relationship anytime someone you know, trust or love takes economic advantage of you. See if you fit the profile of one of these "classic" financial abuse victims:

  • Pushover Partner: Your spouse, partner or best friend runs up household bills or otherwise hurts your good credit. The person also somehow finagles you into buying the things he or she (and not you) wants.
  • Freeloader's Favorite: You're the parent, grandparent, aunt, uncle or friend of someone who enriches himself at your expense. He'll often make you feel guilty by reiterating a hard-luck tale about facing foreclosure, being downsized or going through a divorce.
  • Human ATM: You have family members or friends who consistently dip into your wallet, like the cousin who frequently "borrows" money and then conveniently "forgets" to repay you. Or, the nephew who calls you up to bail him out of trouble when the rent is due and the lights are about to be disconnected.


 Fight back against financial abuse

 If any of these scenarios seems familiar, then tell someone. Financial abusers count on your silence to mask their misdeeds. Don't be afraid to call your local police department if you strongly suspect financial abuse.

 Another source of help is the online Eldercare Locator, a program of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services that can connect you to support services in your community. The toll-free number is 800-677-1116.

 Remember to exercise your right to say no when someone asks for any form of financial support. It's your money, and you have the final say over it. No matter your family circumstances or personal situation, you never have to tolerate being financially pressured by anyone — especially those closest to you.

Lynnette Khalfani-Cox is the author of Perfect Credit: 7 Steps to a Great Credit Rating. You can friend her on Facebook or follow her on Twitter @TheMoneyCoach.

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