At the AARP Chapter #2010 monthly meeting on Nov. 21, held at the Riverfront Community Center, seniors got to meet Glastonbury's new police chief, Marshall Porter.
Porter is a 26-year veteran of the Farmington Police Department, where he most recently held the rank of captain. He began in Glastonbury in early November.
Porter said he has planned to meet with as many Glastonbury citizens and groups as possible, and wanted to make the department's position, when it comes to seniors, clear.
"I want you to know what we're already doing for you, and I want to know what we can do better," Porter told the group.
The state police, Porter said, no longer has a person designated to investigate crimes against seniors, including financial scams, so all of those incidents will be handled locally. Promoting safety, he said, is about increasing awareness. He also said he wants to reduce seniors' fear of being victims of a crime.
"In all honesty, Glastonbury is a very safe community," he said. "There's a fear factor involved with some of these crimes and often, the fear is greater than the crime itself."
Porter said that seniors are targeted for scams and crimes because they are usually financially stable, have good credit, are trusting, and are often unfamiliar with current crimes.
"They play on fears, they play on kindness," Porter said. "Unfortunately, seniors are often less inclined to report a crime, either because they don't know that they've been victimized, or because they are embarrassed."
Medicare and health insurance scams are prevalent nowadays, Porter said.
"People will call and claim to represent insurance companies," he said. "They're trying to get your personal information so they can open up credit cards in your name, or take money out of your bank accounts."
The chief also warned against people calling and saying a relative needs money because they are in trouble, and people claiming to represent charities - especially after a disaster, like the hurricane that struck Puerto Rico.
Another popular scam is the "grandparent scam," wherein a caller will say "Hi, grandma, do you know who this is?" hoping the unsuspecting senior will reply with a grandchild's name, and the caller can pretend to be in trouble and in need of money.
"It always boils down to a couple of things," Porter said. "No. 1, don't be fooled. If it's too good to be true, then it's not true. There's no such thing as a free lunch. Don't give out your information. No reputable company is going to call and ask for your password or your bank's routing number. Don't trust anyone you don't know. If you're concerned that it is your doctor, or your insurance company, just call them back on a number you know."
Porter also told seniors not to be afraid to call the police.
"Always report suspicious activity," he said. "You're not bothering us. That's what we're here for. Do not be afraid to call us. The sooner you report it to us, if you were victimized, the sooner we can try to help you recover, and we can try to catch the person who did it and we can warn other people."
Porter said that more information on crimes and scams can be found by contacting Glastonbury Senior Services or the Glastonbury Police Department.
"I want to make sure we open the door so that we have a great, collaborative relationship," he said. "That's very important to me."