Adult Protective Services tracking rise in financial exploitation of seniors
LUBBOCK, Texas (KCBD) - Financial exploitation is the fastest-growing type of abuse investigators are seeing in seniors. Because of that rise, the Lubbock office for Adult Protective Services is working to raise awareness of the crime.
Financial exploitation cases involve family members or caregivers illegally or improperly using another person’s money or property for their own financial gain.
While it often goes unreported, Marci Leffler, community engagement specialist for APS, says it can deplete the savings and financial assistance seniors depend on to live.
“It goes way under the radar because a lot of people, they don’t want to get their family members in trouble. And so it goes unreported,” Leffler said. “It’s kind of the...you give a mouse a cookie, they come back for more.”
Leffler says a person of sound mind can choose to give their money to other people, but if they are pressured into it, it’s a crime.
“If you were coerced into that by threat or by saying we’re not going to come visit you anymore, or any way forced into doing something like that, that’s a whole different scenario,” she said.
Financial exploitation cases include when victims don’t have the mental capacity to make their own decisions. Leffler says caretakers can feel like they are owed something while caring for their family member or patient, so they take advantage of their finances.
“You’re taking care of this person, but you have to be responsible with the money that they that they entrust you with,” Leffler said.
Adult Protective Services investigated 12,688 cases of financial exploitation in Texas last year. 308 of those cases were on the South Plains.
Leffler says APS is starting to work with more banks to educate employees on what to look out for.
“You have a client come in that comes in every Friday, and they take out $200 every other Friday, and all of a sudden they’re coming in and somebody’s with them and they’re taking out $6,000,” Leffler said. “So, that’s something that kind of raises a red flag and they can start asking questions: ‘What is this for?’ ‘Where are you sending this?’”
Leffler says people should start making financial decisions now to ensure their money will be taken care of by someone they trust.
“Think now before, as you get older, your cognitive abilities decline. So, make those decisions early on,” she said.
If you feel like someone you know is being taken advantage of, call the APS hotline at 800-252-5400. If your report doesn’t fit the criteria for the crime, Leffler says APS can often find other ways to help these seniors.
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