What could be worse than exploiting an elderly person by stealing or misusing their money or property?
The good news is that the number of confirmed cases of financial exploitation declined for the second year in a row. Adult Protective Services (APS), a program of the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services (DFPS), validated 856 cases of exploitation in Texas fiscal year 2016 compared to 934 cases in 2015 and 1,108 cases in 2014. This follows two years in which confirmed cases rose.
"It’s good to see financial exploitation of seniors and people with disabilities trending down,” said Kez Wold, associate commissioner for Adult Protective Services. "I think communities and financial institutions are more aware of exploitation than ever before and are more protective, but we can’t relax."
Financial exploitation is when a relative, caretaker (or anyone with an ongoing relationship) improperly or illegally uses the money or property of someone who is elderly or has a disability for personal benefit or profit.
APS is putting a spotlight on stopping financial exploitation and other important issues for the elderly at a number of events during May, which is Elder Abuse Prevention Month. Check out the APS events in your area on EveryonesBusiness.org.
Recognizing Financial Exploitation
The warning 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.
If you see signs of financial exploitation, call the Texas Abuse Hotline (800-252-5400) or report online at TxAbuseHotline.org.
Find out more about this issue at EveryonesBusiness.org, including tips on how Texans can protect themselves from financial exploitation.
APS is a division of the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services (DFPS). Its mission is to protect people who are 65 or older or who have disabilities from abuse, neglect, and exploitation by investigating, and providing or arranging for services to alleviate or prevent further maltreatment.