Stop financial exploitation of vulnerable adults

DFPS Media Specialists

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

AUSTIN - Almost 1000 Texans were victims of financial exploitation last year. That's why 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 know it when you see it. There's a new APS Reporting Guide on the Department of Family and Protective Services website that explains how to recognize and report abuse, neglect, and financial exploitation.

In October, APS is also teaming with community partners on several conferences around the state to increase awareness and understanding of this serious crime, the effects it has on its victims, and how to stop it.

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 Adult Protective Services. "We must all do our part to stop this crime against some of the most vulnerable people in our communities."

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 suspect someone is being exploited, call 1-800-252-5400 or report it online at

Find out more at, including tips on how Texans can protect themselves from financial exploitation and about events in your area.

Facts and Figures

  • 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 have disabilities from abuse, neglect, and exploitation by investigating, and providing or arranging for services to alleviate or prevent further maltreatment.
  • Texas has 2.8 million residents who are 65 or older and another 1.7 million younger adults with a disability.
  • 59,601 Texans who lived at home were confirmed victims of abuse, neglect, or exploitation last year.  In most cases, a member of the victim's family was responsible.
  • About half of victims were 65 or older and half were younger adults with a disability.
  • Last year, APS investigations confirmed allegations of financial exploitation in 991 cases involving adults living at home (848) and in institutions (143).

More Information