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Financial and Economic Abuse

Help with identifying financial abuse

Financial abuse can impact people of all ages and is sometimes referred to as economic abuse. It can take on many different forms, such as exploitation, sabotage or someone taking control over your finances to reduce your independence. This can leave you feeling isolated, lacking in confidence, and trapped.

We are a signatory to the UK Finance 2021 Financial Abuse Code. This means we are committed to helping anyone who thinks they may be a victim of financial abuse regain control of their finances. You can be confident you will be treated sympathetically and positively in these particularly difficult circumstances.

What does Financial Abuse look like?

It can be difficult to detect and identify, especially when the abuser is a partner, family member, friend or carer. You may not realise you are a victim of financial abuse - if you recognise any of the signs below, please talk to us.

  • Have you been made to hand over control of your accounts?
  • Have you been asked to account for everything you spend?
  • Have you been stopped from having access to your accounts?
  • Is your household budget being spent on other things without your knowledge?
  • Have you been made to put all the bills in your name?
  • Has credit been taken out in your name without your knowledge or permission?
  • Have you been pressurised into adding someone to your account?
  • Have you been persuaded to change your will?
  • Are you being stopped from going to work or school, e.g. college or university?

How we can help

Our colleagues are trained to handle your situation confidentially and with sensitivity. With your permission, we’ll make a note on your account, which is only visible to us, of any additional support you may need so you won’t have to confirm your situation each time you speak to us.

If you need support urgently, you can call the National Domestic Abuse Helpline for free on 0808 200 0247 (24 hours) which is run in partnership between Refuge and Women’s Aid. For men, call Respect on 0808 801 0327, and for services and advice for older people you can contact Hourglass on their 24 hour helpline on 0808 808 8141.

If you’re worried someone is monitoring your phone, use a safer device, like another phone from a trusted friend, family, or a neighbour, to contact Refuge’s 24h National Domestic Abuse Helpline (Freephone) on 0808 200 0247.

It’s a good idea to consider who might be able to access things like your emails by checking where your account is logged in. You can find more information about this at the Refuge Tech Safety website.

If you’re worried about someone knowing you’ve visited this page, the Metropolitan Police have a guide to hiding your online activity.

UK Finance have put together a leaflet explaining what financial abuse is, and how financial services providers can support you.


Taking control of your finances

Taking control of your finances

We will help you regain control of your finances by offering practical support to make your banking safe and secure. Some of the ways we can help you are:

  • sending you a new debit card/PIN
  • re-setting your Online Banking security
  • changing your correspondence address so any confidential post is sent to a safe place, such as refuge or trusted friend or family member
  • setting up a new bank account which isn’t connected to any existing joint accounts you may have with the perpetrator
  • adding someone you trust to your bank account so they can help you with your banking. Or we can remove someone who already has access if you are worried about how they are controlling your finances.

Credit report

We’ll tell you how to check your credit file, so you can understand if any accounts or credit have been taken out in your name which you aren’t aware of.

Regaining independence

Regaining independence

Once you’re ready to take control of your finances, it’s important to understand any potential financial impact, and take action to correct it.

Your credit file

The best way for you to find out about your credit file is to contact credit reference agencies to understand whether there has been any impact on your credit score.

There are three main credit reference agencies in the UK (Equifax, Experian and TransUnion). You can check your score through any of them for free. You may have to pay if you want to see your full credit report.

When you are ready to start rebuilding your finances, take a look at our top tips to help build your credit score.

Notice of disassociation

This is a request to remove financial associates from your credit file once all of your joint accounts are closed.

Protective Registration

You can pay a fee to apply for Protective Registration where Cifas place a warning flag against your name and other personal details in their National Fraud Database. This tells any organisation that uses Cifas data to pay special attention when your details are used to apply for their accounts or services. Knowing you're at risk, they'll carry out extra checks to make sure it's really you applying, and not a fraudster using your details.

Debt support

You may also have debt or be experiencing financial difficulty as a result of the financial abuse. You can call our Specialist Support Team on 0345 450 3256 Monday to Saturday 9am to 5pm, so we can help you to manage your debt and get back on track. You can also receive free and impartial debt advice by contacting Money Helper on 0800 011 3797.

If you think you may be affected by financial abuse, please contact us

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Useful websites for more help and information

There are a number of organisations listed below who are specially trained to help with financial and domestic abuse.

Citizens Advice

Confidential information and advice about debt and money.

How to get help with domestic abuse.


Resources to help you when money worries are affecting your mental health.


Specialist services for survivors of domestic abuse.


Charity providing emotional support to anyone in distress or struggling to cope.

Money Helper

A guide to ‘managing your money in uncertain times’.

Surviving Economic Abuse (SEA)

A charity dedicated to raising awareness of economic abuse helping to support woman to survive and thrive.

Women’s Aid

A grassroots federation working together to provide life-saving services in England and build a future where domestic abuse is not tolerated.

Men’s Advice Line

The helpline for male victims of domestic abuse.


The UK’s only charity focused on the abuse and neglect of older people.


Find out about benefits, grants and other sources of financial support.


Free online debt advice.


A charity campaigning for equality and human rights for lesbian, gay, bi, trans, queer, questioning and ace (LGBTQ+) people everywhere.