BERGEN COUNTY COMMUNITY ENGAGEMENT TASK FORCE ANNOUNCES SENIOR CITIZEN RESOURCE INITIATIVE
For Immediate Release:
July 27, 2021
Bergen County Prosecutor Mark Musella is pleased to announce a week-long senior citizen resource initiative titled, “We Care for Our Seniors” that was organized by the Bergen County Prosecutor’s Office Community Engagement Division in partnership with the Bergen County Community Engagement Task Force. The initiative took place from Sunday, July 18 through Saturday, July 24, 2021.
The CETF is a network of Bergen County police officers who are focused on building firm and sustainable relationships between law enforcement and the communities they serve through engagement. These officers host programs and initiatives intended to improve public safety, increase communication, share resources, and build trust.
Fifty-one Bergen County police departments participated in this week-long initiative, which was focused on addressing current crime trends targeting senior communities. Officers used creative ways to reach out to seniors, such as picking up expired medical prescriptions from senior homes and facilities; hosting meet and greets with senior groups and clubs, as well as coffees, cookouts, and lunches; handing out newsletters; teaching basic self-defense classes; and discussing the importance of physical and mental fitness. CETF members focused on raising awareness and educating seniors on how to avoid becoming the victim of increasingly prevalent IRS, social security, bail, grandparent, romance, utility worker, and distraction scams.
The “We Care for Our Seniors” initiative was organized because cases of fraud continue to rise, and seniors have been an increasingly vulnerable target due to Covid-19 related isolation. In New Jersey, during 2020 and the first half of 2021, more than 300 senior fraud cases were reported to law enforcement, costing our seniors at least $2.9 million.
There are a few tips we recommend following and sharing with those around you, but most importantly: slow down, ask questions, contemplate the situation, and trust your instincts.
• Limit the amount of private information you give out. Scammers search Facebook, Instagram, and other networks for family information they can use to fool you.
• Ask questions of any strange caller to verify their identity.
• Hang up and call any family member allegedly involved in an emergency to verify the story. Scammers often plead with you to keep the emergency a secret so you won’t try to confirm it.
• If you speak to someone who claims to be a police officer, call the police department to verify the person’s identity and any information they’ve given you.
• Verify the identity of any individual who shows up at your home before speaking with them. Don’t hesitate to call the company to verify they have sent a representative to your home.
If you or a loved one is already the victim of a scam, we encourage you to:
• Contact law enforcement. This will help you determine whether you are a victim, and they may be able to assist you in recouping any lost funds.
• Close or cancel any compromised accounts. Act quickly to mitigate financial loss by immediately contacting your bank, credit card company, or other financial institution.
• Request a copy of your credit report. Get a free copy from a credit bureau and freeze your credit if necessary. Be sure to dispute any fraudulent or inaccurate information.
• Request copies of documents or supporting evidence related to the potential fraud.
If you or a loved one is being scammed, call 911, the Bergen County Prosecutor’s Office Tip-line at 201-226-5532, or the National Elder Fraud Hotline (run by the U.S. Department of Justice) 1-833-FRAUD (1-833-8311).
Prosecutor Mark Musella would like to thank the Bergen County Sheriff’s Department and the Bergenfield, Bogota, Cliffside Park, Closter, Demarest, Dumont, East Rutherford, Edgewater, Elmwood Park, Englewood, Englewood Cliffs, Fairview, Fort Lee, Franklin Lakes, Garfield, Glen Rock, Hackensack, Hasbrouck Heights, Haworth, Hillsdale, Ho-Ho-Kus, Leonia, Little Ferry, Lodi, Lyndhurst, Mahwah, Montvale, Moonachie, New Milford, North Arlington, Northvale, Oakland, Old Tappan, Oradell, Palisades Park, Paramus, Ramsey, Ridgefield, Ridgefield Park, Ridgewood, River Edge, Rivervale, Rochelle Park , Rutherford, Saddle Brook, South Hackensack, Teaneck, Waldwick, Washington Township, and Westwood Police Departments for their participation in this initiative.
The public is encouraged to follow the CETF’s efforts on its website www.bcpo.net/CETF.