BRIDGEWATER — Town Manager Michael Dutton and Bridgewater Council on Aging (COA) Director Emily Williams are pleased to share with the Bridgewater senior community a video produced with safety information from Plymouth County District Attorney Timothy Cruz.
The video features DA Cruz speaking on a number of topics in relation to COVID-19, including the pandemic’s effect on the court system, the opioid epidemic and recent scams targeted toward the senior population.
“In the difficult times of the COVID-19 pandemic, many of the issues facing our community, such as the opioid epidemic and scams have been exacerbated,” Director Williams said. “We made this video to help address those issues and to assure seniors that support services and resources remain available for whatever they may need. We hope that the seniors in our community will watch this video and share it with friends, family and neighbors, and reach out to us at Elder Affairs with any questions, concerns or needs. We would also like to thank Plymouth County DA Tim Cruz for his time and for the valuable information he shared.”
DA Cruz talked about how court operations have changed in response to COVID-19. Plymouth County courts have reopened, but for limited business. The courts are operating under Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines for reopening with health and safety requirements including self-screening by courthouse personnel, symptom screening and taking the temperature of anyone who enters the courthouses, self-screening for inmates who attend court, plexiglass shields and barriers, limiting capacity in the courthouses and more.
Updated information about the Plymouth County courts can be found on plymouthda.com, and anyone who has questions about the current operations or a case can call 508-584-8120.
The Plymouth County DA’s Office also remains committed to providing resources for people who are struggling with opioid use which is an issue that may be heightened during COVID-19. Resources such as on-call recovery coaching are now happening virtually. Those who need help or know someone who needs help can visit plymouthda.com to find available local resources. In addition, those who are looking for assistance or resources can contact Plymouth County Outreach.
Finally, DA Cruz discussed the continued prevalence of scams including current types of scams, how to be sure if a call, text or email is legitimate, what to do if you believe you have been scammed and how scammers have modified their scams during the COVID-19 pandemic. Many scams that are targeting seniors during the pandemic are related to misinformation or are meant to instill fear about the pandemic.
The “Grandparents Scam” remains common. This scam usually involves a phone call in the middle of the night from someone posing as a family member of the victim. Scam callers have been known to say that they’ve been arrested or robbed, or in the hospital sick with COVID-19 with no way to pay a hospital bill, and then ask for money to be wired.
DA Cruz recommended verifying who is calling, reaching out to a family member to determine the legitimacy of the story, refraining from answering questions that give out information a stranger wouldn’t know (such as a grandchild’s name) and resisting the urge to act or send money immediately. When a caller begins demanding money, especially payment via pre-paid debit card, gift card or money transfer, it should be an immediate red flag that the caller is a scammer. Additional information from the FTC on Imposter Scams can be found here.
Other current scams in and around Plymouth County include the brushing “seeds from China” scams, COVID-19 contact tracing scam and the social security scam. For more about these scams, visit the Plymouth County DA scams page.
The Bridgewater COA would like to share the following tips from the FTC to help the senior community avoid Coronavirus scams:
- Hang up on robocalls. Don’t press any numbers. Scammers are using illegal robocalls to pitch everything from scam Coronavirus treatments to work-at-home schemes. The recording might say that pressing a number will let you speak to a live operator or remove you from their call list, but it might lead to more robocalls, instead.
- Ignore online offers for vaccinations and home test kits. Scammers are trying to get you to buy products that aren’t proven to treat or prevent COVID-19 — online or in stores. At this time, there also are no FDA-authorized home test kits for the Coronavirus. Visit the FDA to learn more.
- Fact-check information. Scammers, and sometimes well-meaning people, share information that hasn’t been verified. Before you pass on any messages, contact trusted sources. Visit What the U.S. Government is Doing for links to federal, state and local government agencies.
- Know who you’re buying from. Online sellers may claim to have in-demand products, like cleaning, household, and health and medical supplies when, in fact, they don’t.
- Don’t respond to texts and emails about checks from the government. The details are still being worked out. Anyone who tells you they can get you the money now is a scammer.
- Don’t click on links from sources you don’t know. They could download viruses onto your computer or device.
- Watch for emails claiming to be from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) or experts saying they have information about the virus. For the most up-to-date information about the Coronavirus, visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the World Health Organization (WHO).
- Do your homework when it comes to donations, whether through charities or crowdfunding sites. Don’t let anyone rush you into making a donation. If someone wants donations in cash, by gift card, or by wiring money, don’t do it.
If anyone has any questions or feels that they have been victimized, they are encouraged to call their local police department. Scams should also be reported to the FTC at www.ftc.gov/complaint or 1-877-382-4357.
Many resources are available at the COA for Bridgewater seniors. The COA can conduct counseling to help pinpoint and recommend the most appropriate resources. Seniors are also encouraged to call the COA at 508-697-0929 for the most local and up-to-date information regarding a number of topics, get help or hear about opportunities or resources that may be available to them.
The Senior Safety video is one of a series of videos that will be published to bring valuable information and resources to the senior community in the areas of public safety, supportive services and community interests. The program is a collaborative effort between the Bridgewater Council on Aging, Bridgewater TRIAD, Plymouth County District Attorney Timothy Cruz, Plymouth County Sheriff Joseph McDonald, and Bridgewater Community Access Television.
The COA, in collaboration with Bridgewater Television (BTV), has made Channel 98 a dedicated channel to Bridgewater seniors. The videos will be posted online at btvaccess.com.