New partnership created
Male victims of financial abuse in Scotland will be able to take back some control over their finances without placing themselves at further risk of abuse from partners.
A new partnership between the Vulnerability Registration Service (VRS), a not-for-profit company providing the UK’s first central vulnerability database, and Abused Men in Scotland (AMIS), is to offer support.
Abused men who have made themselves known to AMIS and have given permission, will be registered onto the VRS database by AMIS on their behalf. This will help ensure that male victims of domestic abuse whose partners are also controlling their finances and taking out further debt in their names, are highlighted safely and securely to credit and service providers through a ‘risk of coercion’ flag applied by the VRS.
Organisations accessing the VRS database will be able to focus their resources and adapt their actions appropriately, such as turning down a request for a new loan, service or higher credit card limit, and exercise the caution needed to handle such situations. Crucially, the abusive partner will not be given any indication of why the service or credit has been turned down, ensuring further harm is not caused to the victims.
It is the first partnership of its kind and aims to ensure that men in Scotland who are in abusive relationships, whose finances are being controlled by a partner, have some way of protecting their financial wellbeing. It gives them a way of doing this without having to formally contact each service or credit provider, or risk alerting their abusive partners to the fact that they are taking action.
The team at AMIS first heard about the valuable work undertaken by VRS in 2021 and knew straight away that it was a service that could really help the men they work with.
Iris Quar, Services Manager at AMIS, said: “Often, these men have secure jobs and are considered financially sound. In reality, they are victims of financial abuse. The abusive partners have complete control over their money, so keeping track of all the credit and services that have been applied for in their names is impossible for them. The abusers also control their time and access to family, friends and places. This means the abused men simply do not have the ability to contact each and every provider with their story, and they are scared of being found out. But on top of that, the organisations do not make it easy for them.”
According to AMIS, the biggest barrier encountered when trying to make credit and service providers aware of their circumstance, is the need for written permission. Each organisation must have a mandate from the victim, highlighting their circumstances and the need to put a stop to further credit or services being taken out. The victims, however, are reluctant to put anything in writing for fear of their abusive partners finding out. Furthermore, there will be many more services taken out in their names with organisations that they are not aware of.
Quar continued: “By taking away their partner’s ability to apply for credit in their name, it is the best, and probably the only, way for victims of financial abuse to gain back some control and this is so important for them. But they need help. They need a third party, like AMIS and VRS, to do this for them. Now, we can register them with the VRS and their case will be managed appropriately without them having do anything more, being approached by the organisations or being found out. The impact of the work by the VRS is incredibly valuable and all organisations should be using the database – they have a duty to identify, support and safeguard people who are at risk.”
The VRS database is a central, independent register of vulnerable people, that helps organisations to identify vulnerability and treat their customers fairly and appropriately. Service providers using the Vulnerability Registration Service database will be alerted if their customers are victims of abuses through a ‘risk of coercion’ flag.
Helen Lord, CEO of the Vulnerability Registration Service, said: “We are proud to be able to work with such an important and proactive charity. The reason that organisations like AMIS and VRS exist is to help and protect people like this – people who would be putting themselves at risk if they approached all the service and credit providers to make them aware of the circumstances in which they live. Organisations, particularly banks, utilities, mobile phone companies, local authorities and councils, have a duty to use this information and act in the best interests of these victims. They must play a more active role in identifying and protecting those customers who cannot protect themselves.”