PEterborough

Police address senior safety

Scams, identity theft, door-to-door promotions all too common

  • Peterborough Police Chief Scott Guinard spoke to seniors about avoiding scam attempts and safety issues at Friday's Senior Lunch at the Community Center.
  • Peterborough Police Chief Scott Guinard spoke to seniors about avoiding scam attempts and safety issues at Friday's Senior Lunch at the Community Center.
  • Peterborough Police Chief Scott Guinard spoke to seniors about avoiding scam attempts and safety issues at Friday's Senior Lunch at the Community Center.

PETERBOROUGH — Police Chief Scott Guinard offered advice to older residents at Friday’s Senior Lunch at the Community Center, reminding them that social media has provided scammers with a wealth of personal information that can make just about anyone a target.

“Anyone can type in your name, do a search, trace your family history. It’s amazing what will come up,” Guinard told the group of about a dozen seniors.

He described a recent incident where a woman received a call, apparently from an attorney, that she thought was legitimate. The caller said her grandson had been arrested overseas and had asked his grandmother to send money, wiring it from the local Rite Aid store.

“He knew the grandson’s name. He knew there was a Rite Aid in Peterborough,” Guinard said. “Fortunately the young woman at the store was suspicious and had them contact the police. They were this close to wiring money out of the country. This sort of thing happens almost daily.”

Guinard said a lot of telephone scams originate from foreign countries. Lately, many have come from Canada as well as from Romania, other European countries and Jamaica. He said laws vary from country to country and scams from foreign countries are difficult to track and nearly impossible to prosecute.

He said the quickest way to deal with a scammer is to just hang up.

“Or you can say something like, ‘I’m not allowed to make financial decisions. My son handles all that. His number is 924-8050.”

When a dispatcher answers that phone number, saying “Peterborough Police, how may I help you,” the scammers always hang up.

“They will not call you again,” Guinard said.

Callers often claim to be from the Internal Revenue Service, Guinard said, but they are not. The IRS never makes calls to people asking for information such as Social Security or bank account numbers.

“Be very careful,” Guinard said. “Once they have information, they can drain your bank account.”

As for email, the best solution is to delete anything suspicious.

“Do not respond. Do not open any attachments,” Guinard said.

The police chief also offered tips for those who are going on vacation.

“Put a hold on your mail. Have a neighbor move your vehicles. Leave a TV or radio running. ”

He said using timers to turn lights on and off at logical times is a good idea.

“Make your home look lived in,” he said.

Guinard said police in nearby towns have seen a number of cases of people going door-to-door selling meat or leftover paving material.

“They aren’t licensed, they’re selling bad product and they may be using this as an opportunity to study your home,” he said. “Call us immediately, so we can get out and confront these people.”

He also said there have been several cases in Peterborough where prescription medications have been stolen from seniors. A young person, usually a girl, will come to the door and say her car has broken down and could she use the phone. Then after making a call, she may ask to use the bathroom.

“Where do you keep your prescriptions?” Guinard asked. “In the bathroom.”

It’s happened three or four times, he said, and residents often don’t realize medications are missing for two or three days.

Finally, he urged everyone to hide valuables and lock their cars, whether they’re at home, at a brief stop in a plaza parking lot, or stopping for a hike at Miller State Park.

“We routinely have cars broken into there,” Guinard said about the park. “People are very trusting.”

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