Protecting you from financial abuse

What is financial abuse?

Financial abuse occurs when someone manipulates financial decision-making, or misuses or controls money, financial resources, property or assets without knowledge or consent.

A ‘financial abuser’ can be hardly known or well known to someone; family members, friends, acquaintances or strangers. They may also be professionals or caregivers.

There can be many different reasons why financial abuse starts. For example:

  • A person may feel a sense of entitlement to someone’s money.
  • It may be a gradual change, where someone initially managing someone’s money responsibly begins to take advantage opportunistically.

To help protect yourself from financial abuse

  • If someone asks for money, discuss it first with a trusted family member or friend. Summarise the arrangement in a letter or email and set up a repayment plan.
  • Keep on top of payments. Talk to Westpac about setting up automatic payments and direct debits. Consider who has third party authorisations and ensure that they are trusted.
  • Consider planning for the future. Carefully choose and set up a trustworthy person to act as a representative with power of attorney.
  • Never rush into a financial decision. Ask for details in writing and get a second opinion or independent advice.
  • Open your own mail if possible.
  • Never sign a document or make a large financial decision unless the terms and obligations are understood. If in doubt, seek independent legal advice.

How we can help

We understand that it can be hard to talk about or take action to stop financial abuse. In our branches, one of our staff members can speak to you without a support person, friend or carer. When financial abuse is suspected, depending on the personal circumstances, we may:

  • Check that any person acting on your behalf appears to have appropriate authorisation based on information available to us.
  • Help you to understand your existing financial arrangements with us.
  • Help change any online banking logon details and PINs to help protect the security of your money and information. Please note this may not be appropriate in circumstances where an abuser controlling your finances may potentially become violent.
  • Help change the address for any mail that we send, including any new cards. The address of a trusted person can be nominated, or a local branch.

If you are in financial difficulty or have concerns in relation to debts owed to Westpac, including payments to joint loans, you can call the Financial Solutions team 0800 772 771. The team will determine assistance on a case by case basis.

Accessing other forms of information and support

  • Enduring Power of Attorney for propertyAn EPA for property can offer some protection. It’s a legal document that means someone you trust can make decisions for you about your money, house, land and belongings if you’re unable to cope.
  • Community Law - You may be able to obtain free legal advice from a community legal centre.
  • MoneyTalks - Call on 0800 345 123. Helpline gives free independent budgeting advice to individuals, family and whānau. They can also organise your debt and plan for the future. They can also put you in touch with a local budgeting service and help you with issues you're having with lenders.
  • Victim Support – 0800 842 846 - Provide free emotional and practical support, information referral to other support services and advocacy for the rights of victims.
  • Citizens Advice Bureau – Call 0800 367 222 CAB can advise you on your consumer rights and obligations, in person, by phone or online.

For concerns around our mature New Zealanders. You can report concerns to your local Elder Abuse & Neglect Prevention Service (EANPS). There is one in most areas of New Zealand.

Read more Read less