Common signs

  • Some money or property is missing.
  • Tom says that some money or property is missing.
  • You notice sudden changes in Tom’s spending or savings. For example, he:
    • takes out lots of money from the bank without explanation;
    • tries to wire large amounts of money;
    • uses the ATM a lot;
    • is not able to pay bills that are usually paid;
    • buys things or services that don’t seem necessary;
    • puts names on bank or other accounts that you do not recognize or that he is unwilling or unable to explain;
    • does not get bank statements or bills;
    • makes new or unusual gifts to family or others, such as a “new best friend”;
    • changes beneficiaries of a will, life insurance, or retirement funds;
    • has a caregiver, friend, or relative who suddenly begins handling his money; or
    • spends considerable time with telemarketers and home shopping networks.
  • Tom says he is afraid or seems afraid of a relative, caregiver, or friend.
  • A relative, caregiver, friend, or someone else keeps Tom from having visitors or phone calls, does not let him speak for himself, or seems to be controlling his decisions.

What can you do if Tom has been exploited?

Call the emergency 911 number if Tom is in immediate danger.

Call Texas Adult Protective Services at 1-800-252-5400 or the local police or sheriff. You are required by law to do this.

Alert Tom’s bank, credit card company, or the person or company managing Tom's investments if you think those accounts are at risk.  Texas law now requires them to investigate suspected financial abuse, and the bank, credit card company, or investment company may place a temporary hold on any transaction that involves Tom's account if they believe he is being exploited.  Note that the temporary hold is placed only on a particular transaction. The account should still be usable for other purposes.

If Tom is in a nursing home or assisted living, report it to the Texas Attorney General’s Medicaid fraud unit at 1-800-252-8011.

What can you do if Tom has been scammed?

If you suspect a scam, get help. Contact a local, state, or federal agency, depending on the type of scam.

Locally, call the police or sheriff and the Better Business Bureau.

For consumer protection issues, call the Texas Attorney General, Texas Adult Protective Services, the Office of the Long-term Care Ombudsman, or a similar agency.

If scammers are in other states or countries, call a federal agency, such as the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, the FBI, the Federal Trade Commission, or the U.S. Postal Inspection Service.

In both cases...

Consider talking to a lawyer about protecting Tom from further exploitation or getting back money or property taken from him.

Help can come from many places. Each agency and professional has a different role, so you may need to call more than one.

For more information, see Where to Go For Help.