Canton is a town that has been serious about helping residents avoid becoming victims of scams for many years. Those efforts took another step forward recently with the formation of the Canton Anti-Scam Task Force.
The Canton Anti-Scam Task Force is a new working group put together by Diane Tynan, Canton’s Director of the Department of Elder & Human Services.
The Task Force formalizes the already on-going collaboration between Town departments, the Canton police, Canton social workers, local banks and the Canton office of the Norfolk County District Attorney’s office.
The goal is to continue to make a “joint and consistent effort” to keep the public aware of how they can help protect themselves against the many scams out there, including classic scams and new twists on old scams.
The very troubling news is that there are more scams than ever going around with scammers targeting people in every age group. (There is some evidence that tech-casual young adults are falling for scams more often than older adults. Years of outreach efforts and hearing about others becoming victims have made many older adults much more aware of scams.)
Scamming is a very profitable organized crime. It’s probably never going away. There is no “silver bullet” to protect the public 100%. The reality is that people’s first and best line of defense is themselves. Recognizing scam approaches and refusing to get drawn in is the best way to avoid being scammed.
(Three red flags of scam that are always present – 1> Unexpected odd or alarming news, 2> An insistence on urgency and often secrecy, and 3> A request for money, usually in an alternative form of currency like a wire transfer, gift cards, Bitcoin or Venmo.)
Sometimes people do not know who they can turn to if they have questions about a situation that might be a scam. Often they have been told by the scammers that there’s no one they can trust.
That is not true. A scammer is almost always a stranger, just a voice on the phone. No matter what a scammer has told you to alarm you, there are local resources you can trust.
Getting the word out about that is why the Canton Anti-Scam Task Force is also going to have a special focus on providing information about objective and trusted local resources that can help Canton residents get a 2nd opinion on “unexpected odd or alarming news” – especially when it’s not as easy as calling a company on their genuine phone number from a recent statement or calling a family member to confirm they’re not in trouble.
For right now, if you find yourself in an alarming possible scam situation and you don’t know who you can turn to for help, call the Council on Aging (781-828-1323) or the Canton office of the Norfolk County District Attorney’s office (781-830-4800) or go to a local bank. You can always also call the Canton Police at 781-828-1212 or go to the Police Station. The police are there for you 24/7.
The Canton Anti-Scam Task Force plans to hold talks and seminars about recognizing scams and learning how to protect yourself and people you know.
Because you can’t prevent a scammer from approaching you. But you can refuse to engage with a scammer. You can refuse to send money. You can prepare yourself to refuse to be scammed.
From the “Smart About Money” Canton Citizen column published November 22023.
Nick Maffeo is the President & CEO of Canton Co-operative Bank – right next to the Post Office – in Canton.
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