Georgetown Police connecting with the senior community
By Sarah Menesale
Thu Apr 02, 2009, 02:20 PM EDT
|Wicked Local photo by Sarah Menesale
Officer Harry Schwartz leads the seniors services committee on the Georgetown Police Department. He serves as the department’s representative to TRIAD and will hold two information sessions on identity theft this month.
Georgetown - As identity theft and scams continue to put Georgetown elders and others at risk of serious crime and financial exploitation, Georgetown Police Officer Harry Schwartz is working just as hard to make sure that doesn’t happen.
Schwartz, in collaboration with the Georgetown Council on Aging, holds informational meetings regularly, offering tips and strategies for seniors to minimize their risk of becoming victims of fraud and identify theft.
He will be the guest speaker this month at both the Men’s Breakfast on Thursday at Trestle Way as well as a meeting of the Trestle Way Club on Tuesday, April 7.
“It’s been fabulous working with the Police Department as a whole. We certainly gain strength from working in partnership and trying to make sure we are getting the information out to people,” said Council on Aging Director Colleen Ranshaw-Fiorello.
Schwartz leads the senior services subcommittee at the Georgetown Police Department, which is administrated by Lt. Don Cudmore. Officers Bonnie Silva and Mark Anderson round out the team.
The group meets regularly to discuss issues, ideas and events for the senior community in town.
“A lot of seniors don’t want to feel like a burden — but they can call us with concerns or questions about anything, any time, day or night,” Schwartz said.
People’s good nature is often used against them when becoming a victim of identity theft. Individuals unintentionally give out too much personal information that can be used against them, Schwartz said.
“Never give out any personal information like social security numbers, bank account numbers, credit card numbers, or any similar information on the phone, in writing or over the Internet unless absolutely necessary to do under the request of a legitimate institution,” Schwartz said.
Schwartz, who’s been with the department for five years, always wanted to be a police officer. He was previously a inparamedic the North Shore area. The area of senior relations appealed to him because he felt it was an area that needed more attention in town.
Schwartz is the department’s representative to the TRIAD — a group of seniors, senior services providers and law enforcement that works together. The Essex County group is a community safety initiative that focuses on empowering, educating and improving the safety, security and peace of mind of the senior population and is sponsored by Sheriff Frank Cousins and Essex District Attorney Jonathan Blodgett.
The Georgetown group meets monthly at the Trestle Way community room and is open for town seniors to attend.
“We try to bring law enforcement and the support services to them so they don’t have to reach out to us,” Schwartz said.
The Police Department also provides a wellness check program, where seniors can put their name on a list and officers will call in to check on them at an appointed time to make sure everything is OK. To sign up, call the station.
File of Life program
The Georgetown Police Department has partnered with CVS pharmacy to provide a “File of Life” program for local seniors.
They are producing several hundred bags filled with items such as a magnifying glass, a whistle, batteries, medication holders, and other items. The bag will also contain a File of Life form and folder that when filled out lists the individual’s name, emergency contact information, doctor’s names and numbers, medications they’re taking, insurance information and other pertinent information.
Schwartz hopes residents will fill out the forms and then put them in the provided folder that has a magnet attached and stick it to the refrigerator.
Another good place to put one is in the glove box in the person’s vehicle. A File of Life sticker can be placed on the car’s back windshield so emergency personnel know to look for it in case of an accident.
“We’re going to try to pass them out to every senior in town. If we need to go door-to-door we will do that. CVS has volunteered people to help,” Schwartz said.
The senior services subcommittee is also putting together a public safety fair for later this spring or early summer. CVS pharmacy has offered to provide glucose and blood pressure screenings.
Schwarz and the Police Department hope to share information on health and safety awareness at the fair.
“I think the senior community is not always willing to reach out to you — you have to reach out to them. We want them to know the Georgetown Police Department is there for them,” Schwartz said.
Protect yourself from identity theft
For anyone who feels they’ve been a victim of fraud or wants to check their records, individuals are eligible for one free credit report each year and another free report any time someone takes action against your account, such as when you apply for a loan.
The first thing to do is call the Georgetown Police Department if you feel you’ve been a victim of fraud or identity theft.
Individuals can also call the Securities Division of Secretary of State William Galvin’s office at 800-392-6090.
Questions on stock, call the Securities and Exchange Commission at 800-732-0330.
Phone scams, call to be put on the do no call registry at 888-382-1222 or TTY 866-290-4326 or visit donotcall.gov.
This article originally appeared in the Georgetown Record