The Seniors and Law Enforcement Together program offered by the Grove City Division of Police serves to help keep seniors who remember the "good-old days" from being victims of today's bad guys.
Seniors can be particularly vulnerable to crimes such as scams or identity theft, said Tom Durflinger, crime-prevention coordinator who organizes the SALT sessions.
The programs are held at 1 p.m. on the second Tuesday of each month at the Evans Senior Center, 4330 Dudley Road in Grove City. The next program will be Tuesday, April 9.
Older adults are often targets for crime "because they grew up in a time when you could trust people, you could leave your door unlocked and when someone told or promised you something, they were usually on the level," Durflinger said.
So seniors can sometimes be a little too trusting or don't always recognize a scam before it's too late, he said.
"They're often a target for criminals because if people know they are seniors, they'll know they often have some money put away for retirement," Durflinger said.
Some criminals prey on seniors who have recently lost their spouses in death, he said.
"These are romance scams," Durflinger said. "A person may be going on Facebook to meet someone and they start to develop a trust in someone they may not really know. The other person will reel them in and then tell them about a bogus family emergency or financial need and ask them if they could forward them some money to help them out."
Another trick is the "grandparent scam," he said.
"The phone rings and a senior answers it and the other person says 'grandma' or 'grandpa' and they think it's one of their grandchildren," Durflinger said. "They ask them to wire them money to get them out of a tight spot or get them out of jail."
The SALT meetings provide tips for how to recognize a scam or potential crime and how to avoid being a victim, he said.
The police department initiated the program in December 2013, Durflinger said.
"It's a good way to help keep them (participants) informed about the type of crimes or scams that being used to target older adults," he said.
The program has paid dividends, Durflinger said.
"Almost every time we meet, someone will tell me that they were able to recognize a scam or a potential crime because of what they learned at one of our meetings," he said. "That's a good thing to hear."
Police benefit as well, Durflinger said.
"Sometimes people will tell us about a scheme, and it's a new one happening in our community we haven't heard about before," he said.
Grove City police detective Teri Ruslander will lead Tuesday's program. Ruslander, who works on solving many of the scams and crimes targeting seniors in Grove City, will talk about identity theft and other cases she investigates, Durflinger said.
"We usually have a specific theme each month and also give people a chance to ask questions about any topic they want," he said.
While the SALT program is designed for older adults, anyone is welcome to attend, including non-Grove City residents, Durflinger said.
"We don't ask to check your ID at the door," he said with a chuckle. "You don't have to be a certain age or a senior-center member."