Compiled by The Bedford Citizen
District Attorney Marian Ryan visited Bedford on Friday afternoon at the behest of the Council on Aging for a conversation about the plague of scam artists targeting seniors.
Agreements made with individuals at a homeowner’s front door can be interpreted as legal contracts, even though no paperwork citing cost or performance details is signed. Ryan reminded the audience that contractors or salespersons who arrive unannounced or unsolicited, rarely, if ever, have the consumers’ best interests in mind.
Although protecting against identity theft is crucial, the most often-reported thefts in Middlesex County are more mundane, and often at the supermarket: Handbags left in shopping carts while the owner is focused on choosing the best produce. Car doors left unlocked while grocery bags are stowed in the trunk. Ryan told of one person whose car drove away as he was closing the trunk: he had left the motor running, the doors were unlocked, and another individual seized the opportunity to snag his car, and his groceries.
Another kind of identity theft is more subtle: sharing details of one’s personal life in a public place, with unknown individuals, or on social media. It’s easy for someone with ulterior motives to discover quite a lot about each of us, starting with just a few details. Later, when you’ve forgotten that you bragged about your grandchild, a phone call with details you unwittingly shared creates a sense of reality and danger that the perpetrator will exploit.
DA Ryan also reminded the audience that no reliable company will ask for gift cards in lieu of payment. Such scams often involve two phone calls: the first with the demand, the second with a request to scratch off the magnetic strip on the backside of the card. Once the victim reads those numbers to the scammer, they are keyed into a reader and the funds are paid immediately into the spurious account.
The Bedford Police Department has an Elder Affairs Officer, Kristen Dineen, who works directly with the Bedford Council of Aging and the Bedford Fire Department to form a safety net of security for Bedford’s seniors. Both the COA and the Bedford Police maintain lists of scams known to them. Click this link to visit the Bedford Police Department’s Scam page.