President Chris Spear Receives Paul Harris +4 Award
  • Robin Putnam, speaker
  • Michelle Wade
  • Michelle reported that about 8% of the people in Bolton suffer hunger, and there is no agency in Bolton to deal with this. They need to avail themselves of agencies in Stow or Clinton. So the Thanksgiving gift bags donated by our Club to seniors in Bolton were greatly appreciated. The bags were so nicely designed that they’ve received requests just for the bags.
  • Global grant: Our online application is opened. We have $14,000 committed out of the needed $25,000, and are waiting for other clubs to come through. Ray also found out that district governors sometimes can use designated funds, so he will be contacting them.
  • The January Rotarian Magazine mentioned the Brewfest; this is the second time we’ve been mentioned in the magazine over the past 5 years.
  • Repair Café: There were some 70 guests, with 108 items; also 31 volunteers. Half the guests were first-timers. The Repair Café was mentioned in an article in the New York Times, as the movement is expanding. Additional publicity will be broadcasted on Stow cable TV, which also was present.
  • Power of Change: Our club’s honoree was Budget Buddies, active in Lowell and Haverhill. It was a wonderful event. Many people said they had no idea that Rotary was so active in the world.
  • Membership Meet and Greet: 26 people attended, with 13 from the club. The Board discussed having more of these.
  • Chris received a Paul Harris + 4 Award, which Ron presented.
  • Birthday party: Our Club turns 5 years old, and we’re celebrating with a club birthday party on February 23 at Nancy’s.
  • Stop Hunger Now: Our food packing event will be on March 18 at the high school.
  • Habitat for Humanity: On April 1, Dueling Pianos will perform at Bull Run in Shirley.
  • Acton-Boxborough Club’s Wine Tasting event is on April 27. Half of the proceeds from any tickets we sell will be returned to our Club.
  • Reality Fair: This is scheduled for April 28 at NRHS.
  • Brewfest: Volunteers are needed for August 12. This year, there’s no cost for the beer from the breweries, and designated driver tickets will be available.
  • Next Wednesday, there’s a fundraising event for the Nature Connection at 7:00 pm in Concord.
  • Birthdays: Richard Simon
Happy/sad fines:
  • Jacky: is going to Steamboat Springs for skiing; and is glad that everyone is healthy
  • Carol: glad that we’ve moved back to Emma’s.
  • Chris: apologizes for missing meetings; and is going to Portland in 2 weeks, so will miss another.
  • Ron: Rotary Means Business is going well. Happy for the Patriots.
  • Howard:  had a good time in Hawaii, where he visited Pearl Harbor.
  • Richard: visited Cuba for one week, where he found no hunger or homelessness.
  • Dan: grateful that winter did not materialize; and is going to the Azores next week, to film a documentary.
  • Caroline: glad for her oldest son was accepted into the Big Brother program, and her middle son to AmeriCorps.
  • Ray: grateful that our Global grant fundraising is getting there.
  • Laura: had a great visioning meeting in Billerica, with everyone focused.
  • Mary Ann: sad that she missed Rotary Means Business.
  • Bob: grateful for a nice January; Winterfest in Bolton is coming on March 4 at Bolton Common
Our speaker was Robin Putnam, who currently works for the MA Office of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulation serving as its Research and Special Projects Manager. In her role within Consumer Affairs, Robin conducts extensive outreach in dozens of communities throughout the Commonwealth, planning, coordinating, scheduling, and participating in a wide variety of events to provide consumers with information, education, and resources. 
 One of the programs the office administers is vetting of contractors. Call the office and they will tell whether the contractor has or has had any lawsuits or actions against him. Another is the lemon law. And there is information about credit card scams. The office has a web site ( and help line at (888) 283-3757, where you can call to talk to a real person about your concerns. Specialists answer questions about everything you can imagine.
A recent scam is the “can you hear me?” scam. You say yes, your voice is recorded, and the scammer can call your credit card company, and use the recording to say yes to withdrawals. Don’t respond to these calls—just hang up. IRS      scams will soon be starting with threats to send authorities. The IRS doesn’t send anyone to your home or office. A clue that the call is a scam is if there’s a delay on the line after you answer.
Skimming devices can be found everywhere, anywhere that credit cards are used. If your card has near-field technology, the card will have a special symbol—three circles connected by lines. Passports renewed since 2008 also have it. These should be in holders to cover the radio antennas. Recently, skimmers have been found that fit inside the slot where you insert your card. Colors different from the rest of the machine are a sure sign of scamming, so are wobbly bits, because they’re only expected to capture a couple of cards. Average loss per credit card is only $1100; but if information is captured from 10 cards, that’s ten thousand dollars. Then the card can be cloned and sold to friends.
Gas stations’ outer fringes are prevalent places. Lighting often is poor and cameras can’t pick up anything in detail. The center bank of pumps has much better lighting. Use of ATMs after dark can also be problematic. Any card with a magnetic stripe, like a library card, will admit you into the kiosk. It takes a crook about a minute to hack a gas station, about twenty minutes to hack an ATM. They’ve even been found at the teller window inside the bank. Touch the device, feel it for its stability, feel for tape or glue, see that it’s straight, and look out for different colors on devices. New apps can capture your PIN from the heat from your fingers on the keys. When you’re done, touch all the other buttons.
Stolen credit cards are a major problem, if they’re left in a gym locker or similar place. The fake lottery is another that primarily preys on the elderly: “You’ve won, and need to send us money within the next hour to claim your prize.” And the “family member” who’s being held as hostage is another way of extorting money. Don’t rely on your caller ID, as there are apps available on the black market to spoof caller ID.