Author Topic: Advice needed: How to prevent further loss from problem gambling?  (Read 3239 times)

Jet9

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Someone in my family just found out her husband has gambled away their savings and additionally has also gambled online to the tune of $5000 per month on a credit card. She has very little financial awareness and is only just beginning to find out how much money they have, where it is, and what's left. As you can imagine, she is understandably distraught. She doesn't work and he is newly retired.

I have already passed on the Problem Gambling hotline info, but my question is this: Is there anything she can do to take control of their finances and prevent her husband from losing everything if he is unwilling to seek help? Can she alert the bank, the 401k manager, the credit card companies?

Feeling helpless. Any ideas would be appreciated.

Sibley

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Re: Advice needed: How to prevent further loss from problem gambling?
« Reply #1 on: February 25, 2016, 07:24:11 PM »
I'm going to guess that your family member needs to speak with a lawyer. And probably a marriage counselor. While that probably sounds very flippant, it's not meant as such. A lawyer may be able to help her figure out how to lock him out of accounts, if it's possible. I really don't know how much you can do. And if my SO did something like that, it would seriously damage my trust in them, and thus the relationship.

Good luck to her.

DebtFreeBy25

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Re: Advice needed: How to prevent further loss from problem gambling?
« Reply #2 on: February 25, 2016, 09:58:50 PM »
I'm assuming that your family member has no accounts in her name only, and that her husband would object to letting her put funds into accounts that are solely hers. Does he acknowledge his gambling problem? If so, it would be advantageous to put their remaining assets into accounts that she controls. Everything they have remains marital property in the event of a divorce, so there's little risk on his part- not that he seems to have many concerns about risking money.

If he doesn't acknowledge that he has a problem, she may need to seriously consider divorce or risk losing everything to his addiction (or even worse, be left with a pile of debt). It's obviously a hard decision, but she shouldn't feel obligated to go down with the ship.

My father, who is likely now retired after being laid off for what will probably be the last time earlier this month, has developed a gambling problem in recent years and is losing over $10,000 annually. His wife came to me with this information after she received a loss statement for their taxes. I'm not even supposed to know, and he'd be furious if he learned that she told me. I encouraged her to save herself if necessary. Though some addicts do recover, many more do not.

Jet9

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Re: Advice needed: How to prevent further loss from problem gambling?
« Reply #3 on: February 25, 2016, 11:18:11 PM »
Thank you both for your replies. This all just happened today, so she is still processing the loss - of her retirement savings, and yes, of her trust and her marriage. This isn't the first incident, but the situation has definitely escalated since the first. She has already mentioned calling a lawyer tomorrow  and has promised to call the help hotline. I sense that she's done trying to work things out and wants to take action and figure out the finances.

I'm not exactly sure what's in joint accounts and what he has access to alone. I suppose there may be accounts (and debts) she has no idea about yet. Her husband has admitted he has a problem, but doesn't seem willing or able to seek help. I have encouraged her to ask him to/demand that he hand over the credit cards and access to all accounts - but I have no idea how he will react to this. I'm glad to hear that a lawyer may be able to lock him out of accounts.

DebtFree, I'm sorry to hear about your parents and hope your father recovers. It must have been devastating to be laid off and forced into retirement; I hope he finds a way to recover. Good luck to them.

SwordGuy

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Re: Advice needed: How to prevent further loss from problem gambling?
« Reply #4 on: February 26, 2016, 04:38:43 AM »
She needs to get the money into accounts that she controls the access to.  And only her.

She needs to close all credit accounts he has access to.  The bank needs to be told not to re-open the account regardless of what they are told by anyone later.

She needs to contact the credit bureaus and ask that no credit applications be sent.    Hell, tell them there has been identify fraud and no new credit applications.  Whatever it takes.

Get a post office box and do a change of address mail request to that po box.  Why?  Because unsolicited credit card offers will show up in the mail and the spouse will use them.  Some will get thru.   Other things in the mail will be removed in order to hide them.

And she'll have to watch things like a hawk.   

Then and only then she needs to decide whether she wants to try to see if the spouse will change or not.  Personally, I doubt they will.

How do I know this?

Because a friend's husband spent almost every single penny they had, plus ran up every single credit card bill.   She found out the day they were to leave for a vacation when there was no money in the bank and she couldn't fill up the gas tank with her CC.

He promised to be better.   She believed him.  They cut up the CC and called the banks to cancel them.  She drew down what savings were left and paid them down to keep the interest expense lower.   He called the banks right afterwards and said they had changed their mind and had replacement cards sent.  Then proceeded to run them up again.

That's when she ditched the bastard.

She looked into what she could have done to prevent it from getting worse.

MsPeacock

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Re: Advice needed: How to prevent further loss from problem gambling?
« Reply #5 on: February 26, 2016, 06:04:57 AM »
If they hold joint accounts she can open an account in her name only and move all or most of the money without his permission. She just can't close the joint account (but she can empty it). She can remove her name from jointly held credit cards. If she opens another bank account she should do it at another bank so that there is absolutely no chance of confusion at the original bank about if the account is joint or not. Talking to a lawyer sounds like a good idea. Personally I would move the money and then tell him, not via versa, as he sounds like he might try to spend it before she can take action.

ender

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Re: Advice needed: How to prevent further loss from problem gambling?
« Reply #6 on: February 26, 2016, 06:19:21 AM »
She needs to get the money into accounts that she controls the access to.  And only her.

She needs to close all credit accounts he has access to.  The bank needs to be told not to re-open the account regardless of what they are told by anyone later.

She needs to contact the credit bureaus and ask that no credit applications be sent.    Hell, tell them there has been identify fraud and no new credit applications.  Whatever it takes.

Get a post office box and do a change of address mail request to that po box.  Why?  Because unsolicited credit card offers will show up in the mail and the spouse will use them.  Some will get thru.   Other things in the mail will be removed in order to hide them.

You can also do a credit freeze, which will prevent anyone from getting his credit.

DebtFreeBy25

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Re: Advice needed: How to prevent further loss from problem gambling?
« Reply #7 on: February 26, 2016, 08:38:21 AM »
DebtFree, I'm sorry to hear about your parents and hope your father recovers. It must have been devastating to be laid off and forced into retirement; I hope he finds a way to recover. Good luck to them.

My father's been talking about retiring for years and almost retired last year, so I don't think it's entirely unwelcome. Before the gambling issue, I would have been pretty confident that he could retire comfortably. I'm more worried about his wife. (I was an adult when they married, so the term "step-mom" seems weird.) He convinced/coerced her to stop working years ago. She brought some assets into the marriage, but she never had much (maybe $50k) and has likely spent a significant portion of her savings by now. I'm worried that as a retired person my father will increase his drinking and gambling because he doesn't have work to take up most of his time. His drinking increased significantly and he began gambling the last time he was laid off and claimed he was going to retire.

While I monitor the situation, there's not much I can do. I've tried talking to him before (about the drinking as the gambling is still a big secret), and he doesn't listen to me. (I'm no teetotaler myself, but my father has had 8 DUIs that I've found out about.) I'm his only child. His parents are deceased. He's not that close to his siblings, and he doesn't listen to them either. There's really nothing I can do aside from support his wife in whatever choice she makes.

Jet9

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Re: Advice needed: How to prevent further loss from problem gambling?
« Reply #8 on: February 26, 2016, 05:35:12 PM »
Thank you all; I appreciate your  advice and am going to pass these ideas on right away. The scenarios you've shared here are horrific; I can't even imagine. I hope it's not too late to protect at least some of their investments. Today my sister found out that in addition to the wiped out savings and $5000 credit charges, there were also several ATM cash withdrawals. She has frozen the credit cards, but left the debit open, fearing that if that were blocked, he would create larger damage elsewhere. She made an appointment with a lawyer, but next week was the earliest.  What a nightmare.

Debtfree, it's kind of you to support your father's wife. She has a difficult decision/decisions ahead of her. I hope it works out.You mentioned your father's drinking; it seems often to go hand in hand with the gambling in is certainly a problem for my brother-in-law. Now that he's (probably?) moved out, there won't be much else for him to do but drink and gamble. I'm stressed out just writing this; I understand your sense of helplessness.

Thanks again, all.