To help reduce the fear of becoming a victim and to provide seniors with knowledge and resources to protect themselves, Carroll County Sheriff Terry Langley is working to create the county’s first TRIAD group.
Sheriff’s Chief Deputy Brad Robinson said meetings have been held to gather support from public safety, the Department of Family and Children Services, hospices, senior centers and Tanner Health System to participate in the Carroll County TRIAD.
Although the TRIAD concept has been around since 1988, Carroll County has never had a specific group to address the needs of senior citizens in terms of their safety and crime prevention.
“I think this is a great idea, and it’s great that the sheriff is going to come to the senior centers,” said Vaughn Gaddis, who is a member of the Carrollton Senior Center. “I’ve never had any crime in my neighborhood, but there is always a first time. The more security you can get, the better. This is something we need.”
Senior resident Arlene Pierce of Carrollton said she has heard about many scams out there that have directed toward older residents.
“It’s a good idea to have something like this and to have a lecture about these scams,” she said. “If someone calls and asks you to send them money, that’s crazy. It’s just nuts.”
One of the topics the group will discuss with seniors involve many of the recent scams that have surfaced in the county to prevent more people from falling victim, Robinson said.
Robinson said this week a Villa Rica woman in her 70s reported that someone had tried to scam her through what deputies called “The Reader’s Digest Scam.” In this incident, a caller claiming to represent Reader’s Digest magazine, which has a large readership among seniors, told the woman she had won $853,000 but needed to pay $2,300 in taxes before she could receive her winnings. Robinson said the woman recognized the call as suspicious and did not provide any of her personal information or money to the caller.
Robinson said the sheriff’s office was called to several homes in the county this spring for another scam targeting seniors, involving workers charging far more than what they had promised the job would cost.
According to deputies, in this scam, some people with paving equipment will walk up to a door unsolicited and present one price for a job, such as laying asphalt, but after the work is done charge a much higher price.
“They become threatening to the elderly as they demand this higher amount of money,” Robinson said. “There are a lot of good pavement companies, but people need to be cautious if someone knocks on their door when they have not requested the service.”
In past years, Robinson said, some elderly people fell victim to a scam involving painting the top of a barn roof. Again, someone would come unsolicited and say they have some paint left over from a job and could paint their tin barn roof for a fee. Robinson said the paint would be so diluted that it washed off in the first rain, and the alleged “painter” was long gone by then.
“It’s not that the seniors have been overlooked, but they come from a generation of being a lot more trusting than the generation today,” he said. “When people say something as a matter of fact, they might assume it is. Unfortunately, a lot of these qualities are forgone on generations that came later.”
Robinson said one of the more immediate plans of TRIAD is to visit all the senior centers in the county and to try and find a way to reach those seniors who either can’t or don’t leave their homes to provide education on current issues and tips on how to be safer. Sheriff’s Deputy Corey Allen will visit the homes of any senior who asks and perform a free security check and offer advice on how to make the home less vulnerable to crime.
“It could be something as simple as trimming the landscape that won’t cost anything to something more costly as a home security system,” Allen said. “It’s about finding ways to increase security that can fit into any budget.”
Allen said seniors should also avoid opening their doors to someone they do not know, to turn on flood lights outside if possible and secure doors with a dead bolt lock for additional security.
Robinson said the collaboration of organizations working together can help spread awareness and education to this growing population in the county.
“Keeping seniors safe and secure is a priority at the sheriff’s office,” Robinson said. “This is not a group of people that are helpless but are from a generation that is more trusting. A lot of wonderful people could fall victim to these crimes, and that is what we are trying to stop before it happens.”