Bedford (Mass.) Police Host Scam-Avoidance Info Session for Seniors

Bedford Police Department
Robert Bongiorno, Chief of Police
2 Mudge Way
Bedford, MA 01730

For Immediate Release

Tuesday, Dec. 18, 2018

Contact: John Guilfoil
Phone: 617-993-0003
Email: [email protected]

Bedford (Mass.) Police Host Scam-Avoidance Info Session for Seniors

BEDFORD — Chief Robert Bongiorno reports that members of the Bedford Police Department recently gave a talk on scam avoidance to residents of the Carleton-Williard Village, a retirement community on Old Billerica Road.

Lt. James Graham (left) and Sgt. Paul Saunders discuss common types of computer, phone and mail scams with residents of Carleton-Williard Village on Dec. 18, 2018. (Courtesy Photo/Bedford Police Department)
Lt. James Graham (left) and Sgt. Paul Saunders discuss common types of computer, phone and mail scams with residents of Carleton-Williard Village on Dec. 18, 2018. (Courtesy Photo/Bedford Police Department)

Telephone, social media and email scammers often target seniors, and scammers try to con, scare, threaten and trick innocent people out of their hard-earned money by convincing them that they owe back taxes, have unpaid bills, picked up a computer virus or even that a friend or loved one has been kidnapped or is in jail in a foreign country.

Lt. James Graham and Sgt. Paul Saunders gave a talk on recognizing and avoiding these types of scams.

“By understanding and recognizing the common patterns these criminals employ, we can empower our residents of all ages to avoid becoming a victim,” Lt. Graham said.

The Bedford Police Department, as always, reminds all residents to be extremely careful who receives their social security number, date of birth, credit card numbers and banking information. When in doubt, hang up or delete the email.

Common telephones scams that target residents include:

  • IRS Impostors: Callers contact you demanding immediate payment for back taxes.
  • Arrested Relative: Scammers contact you claiming that a friend or relative has been arrested and needs bail money.
  • Kidnapped Relative:  Scammers call to report a friend or relative has been kidnapped and a ransom must be paid.
  • Threatened Arrest: Scammers call to tell you that you are subject to arrest (by a variety of different agencies: U.S. Marshals, FBI, etc.) and must pay to avoid arrest.
  • Utility Scam: Scammers pose as bill collectors from utility companies and threaten to shut off service if you do not pay.
  • Sweepstakes: Someone calls to notify you that you have won a contest or sweepstakes and must send money to collect any winnings.
  • Tech Support/Malware: Someone contacts you claiming your computer needs repairs and to send money for service or asks to connect to your computer. Additionally, a pop-up can appear on your computer, stating that it is infected with malware, and to call a number to pay to remove the virus.

What do these scams have in common? Money.

The scammer demands money immediately, via an untraceable and unrecoverable method such as a pre-paid debit card or a money order.

If you send money to a scammer, demanding to be paid by money order or pre-paid debit card, you will lose this money forever, and it most likely cannot be recovered, even by law enforcement.

When In Doubt, Don’t Give it Out

To avoid falling victim to scams, Bedford Police recommend that residents follow these tips outlined by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC):

  • Don’t answer calls from unknown numbers. Let them go to voicemail.
  • If you answer and the caller (often a recording) asks you to hit a button to stop receiving calls, hang up. Scammers often use these tricks to identify, and then target, live respondents.
  • If you receive a scam call, write down the number and file a complaint with the FCC.
  • Ask your phone service provider if it offers a robocall blocking service. You can also visit the FCC’s website for information and resources on available robocall blocking tools to help reduce unwanted calls.
  • Consider registering all of your telephone numbers in the National Do Not Call Registry. Access the registry online or by calling 888-382-1222.

These scams can also be reported to the FTC at 877-382-4357. Anyone who has questions, concerns, or believes they are the victim of a scam is asked to contact the Bedford Police Department at 781-275-1212.

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