orangeleader.com (Orange, Texas)

October 13, 2013

October named Financial Expoitation Awareness Month

Dawn Burleigh
The Orange Leader

ORANGE — If it's not your money, it's a crime is part of the educational campaign of the Adult Protective Services to make residents aware of financial exploitation of the elderly and disabled.

There are nearly 1000 cases of abused, neglect and exploitation confirmed against elderly or disabled Orange County residents last year.

October has been proclaimed as Financial Exploitation Awareness Month by the Orange County Commissioners Court.

Financial exploitation is the illegal or improper use of another person’s money or property for personal profit or gain. Financial exploitation of adults who are elderly or disabled is an increasing problem and protecting them from becoming victims is everyone’s business.

“It is one of the most difficult to investigate,” Adult Protective Service Supervisor Cecilio Lopez said. “So often it is family or caregivers. The elderly are ashamed or afraid to report it.”

Adult Protective Services (APS) is also teaming with community partners on several conferences around the state, during the month of October, to increase awareness and understanding of this serious crime, the effects it has on its victims, and how to stop it,

Adult Protective Services (APS) is urging all Texans to make it their business to protect people who are elderly or have disabilities from financial exploitation.

The first step is to recognize the signs.

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.

Financial exploitation is when a caretaker, family member, or anyone with an ongoing relationship improperly or illegally uses the money or property of a person who is elderly or has a disability for personal benefit or profit.

"It's terrible when someone takes advantage of your trust to steal your money or misuse your property," says Beth Engelking, DFPS assistant commissioner for APS. "We must all do our part to stop this crime against some of the most vulnerable people in our communities."

The federal government shutdown is not affecting any DFPS services at this time. All DFPS offices are open for business and to serve the children, families, and vulnerable adults of Texas. If you suspect someone is being exploited, call 1-800-252-5400 or report it online at TxAbuseHotline.org.