Adult Protective Services (APS), a division of the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services (DFPS), is urging all Texans to make it their business to protect people who are older or have disabilities from financial exploitation.
APS investigations confirmed 1,544 victims of financial exploitation in Texas last year, although there are likely many more that went unreported.
That is why, each October, APS embarks on a community-based campaign that includes financial exploitation conferences, expos, and other events to sheds the light on this serious and under-reported crime. APS is also handing out brochures and meeting with banks and local organizations that can help intervene to protect exploitation victims all year long.
"Financial exploitation remains a serious threat," said Beth Engelking, DFPS assistant commissioner for Adult Protective Services.
"Victims are sometimes exploited by their own adult children, other relatives, paid caregivers, or others who win their confidence. It's critical that everyone understands that if it's not your money, it's financial exploitation, and it's a crime," said Engelking.
Financial exploitation is the illegal or improper use of another person's money or property for personal profit or gain. Signs of financial exploitation include:
• Sudden changes in bank accounts or banking practices.
• Unexplained or unexpected withdrawal of large sums of money.
• Adding names to someone's bank signature card.
• Unfamiliar people accompanying bank customers to withdraw large sums.
• Unauthorized withdrawal of funds using ATM cards or sudden transfers of assets.
• Sudden changes in financial documents.
• Unpaid bills despite having enough money.
• Previously uninvolved relatives who suddenly claim rights to a person's affairs and possessions.
• Abuse of power of attorney.
APS urges all Texans who know someone with a disability or who is 65 or older to be on the lookout for signs of financial exploitation. If you suspect exploitation, call 1-800-252-5400 and file a report so APS and law enforcement can investigate. Or you can report online at TxAbuseHotline.org.
Find out more at EveryonesBusiness.org, including tips on how Texans can protect themselves from financial exploitation.
Facts and Figures
• APS is a division of the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services. APS' mission is to protect people who are 65 or older or have disabilities from abuse, neglect, and exploitation by investigating, and providing or arranging for services to alleviate or prevent further maltreatment.
• Texas has more than 2.5 million residents 65 or older. Another two million younger adults have a disability.
• APS confirmed that 56,056 Texans living at home and 1,568 Texans living in institutions were victim of abuse, neglect, or exploitation last year. (57,624)
• About half of abuse, neglect, and exploitation victims were 65 or older and about half were younger adults with disabilities.
• APS investigations found that 1,445 adults living at home and 99 adults living in institutions were victims of financial exploitation last year. (1,544)
• APS referred 7,662 allegations of financial exploitation to law enforcement last year.