Be alert to exploitation
This month, October, is dedicated to awareness of financial exploitation of the elderly and disabled. Adult Protective Services has validated 929 cases in Texas for 2018. This was an increase from 909 cases in 2017. Gregg County identified 11 cases of financial exploitation in 2018.
Financial exploitation occurs 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. Communities and financial institutions are often the first to notice this type of abuse. Relatives and neighbors also play a role in notifying authorities of possible financial exploitation.
The warning signs of financial exploitation include:
1. Sudden changes in bank accounts
2. Unexplained withdrawal of large sums of money
3. Adding signatures to someone’s bank signature card
4. Unfamiliar people accompanying bank customers to withdraw large sums of money
5. Sudden changes in financial documents
6. Unpaid bills despite having enough money in the account
7. Abuse of power of attorney
Previously uninvolved relatives, neighbors, and “friends” may suddenly claim rights to a person’s affairs and possessions.
When abuse and/or exploitation is suspected, call the Texas Abuse Hotline at (800) 252-5400 or report online at TxAbuseHOtline.org . Such reports are confidential.
— Dr. James E. Repasky, Longview (Repasky is vice president of the Gregg County Adult Protective Services Advisory Board)