The Bristol Press
Wednesday, March 20, 2013
By LLuvia Mares
BRISTOL — With more than $5,000 charged illegally on her credit card, Frances Girouard vowed never be a victim of identity theft again by becoming informed.
Girouard and 50 other participants learned how to protect themselves against financial abuse and fraud during the West Central Connecticut TRIAD conference, “Spring Forward into Safety,” held at the Bristol Public Library Wednesday.
Girouard, of Terryville, was vacationing on a cruise when her credit card was stolen from her purse.
“I didn’t find out that it had been stolen until I received a bill for $5,000,” she said. “The person had bought a bunch of equipment with my credit card; that’s when I learned that there are people out there to get us. I come from a generation where people were able to trust each other.”
Girouard said when she heard about TRIAD’s conference she knew it was an event she would benefit from.
“I don’t have a lot of money, but the money I do have I want to be able to protect,” Girouard said.
A panel of experts shared information on how to protect against scams and financial abuse, including police Det. Kevin Ward; Lt. Eric Peterson from the Plainville Police Department; Barbara Hance, conservator and money manager; attorney Stephen Allaire of Allaire Elder Law; and Patricia Richardson of the North Central Area Agency on Aging.
Ward said the elderly are usually targeted because of their trusting nature.
“The elderly are more trusting and often the ones who fall for telephone scams,” he said. “Elders usually have more time to have a phone conversation and these guys just need a little bit of information to scam you.”
Ward said people should always verify anyone calling asking for money or personal information.
“If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is,” he said.
The West Central Connecticut TRIAD is a partnership between law enforcement, seniors and other community organizations to ensure safety. The West Central Connecticut TRIAD became an official TRIAD with the state Attorney General’s Office in October 2011, said Mary Lynn Gagnon, resource development director of United Way.
“What’s unique about our TRIAD is that it is a regional program encompassing the towns of Bristol, Burlington, Plainville and Plymouth,” she said. During the conference the movie “Last Will and Embezzlement,” by Pamela Glasner, was shown. The movie featured firsthand accounts from real-life victims, including celebrity Mickey Rooney, discussing issues such as victim profiles, the perpetrators’ method of operating, reasons for vulnerability as well as potential solutions.
“We are doing this because we wanted to do something to protect our seniors.” Gagnon said.
TRIAD was organized by the United Way of West Central Connecticut in partnership with local towns and cities, police departments and senior centers. In Connecticut, there are currently over 40 TRIAD communities.
For more information on the TRIAD program, contact Mary Lynn Gagnon at (860) 582-9559, ext. 407.