Is your identity and personal information safe from individuals who might use it to cause serious, lasting damage to your finances, credit, and good name? The answers will be available at the LGBT Resource Center of Chase Brexton Health Care’s next “Lunch and Learn,” offered in partnership with the Baltimore branch of AARP (American Association of Retired Persons). The event is set for Thursday, June 8th from noon to 1:30 p.m. in the community rooms at Chase Brexton’s Mount Vernon Center (1111 North Charles Street, Baltimore).
Despite new efforts to protect consumers’ personal data, incidents of identity theft jumped 16% in 2016, according to a recent study. More than 15 million people nationwide suffered some form of identity theft last year.
We asked Nancy Carr of the AARP’s Baltimore offices for some simple tips on how to protect yourself from identity theft.
How common is identity theft?
Identity theft is a multi-billion dollar industry. Americans have lost $112 billion to identity theft in the last six years. In Maryland, 8,251 instances of identity theft were recorded in 2016.
How disruptive can the theft of personal information be to one’s life?
It often takes years to remedy the effects of identity theft. Worse, ID thieves can change your mailing address, passwords and contact information, so that you can’t fix what has been done even when you try.
In what ways are older LGBT individuals susceptible to identity theft?
We’re finding that all seniors are a bit more susceptible to identity theft. They may have grown up in a time when people were more trusting, they may find themselves relying on financial advisors or caregivers who don’t always have their best interests at heart, or they may simply be less savvy about the kinds of sophisticated schemes that abound these days.
Are there easy ways that elders can protect themselves from identity theft?
There isn’t just one, because identities are stolen in a variety of ways. ID thieves don’t just drain your existing accounts – they’ll use your identity to set up new accounts in your name and can rack up thousands of dollars of illicit purchases. So start with the following pointers:
• Secure smartphones, laptops, tablets with a passcode
• Don’t use the same password for all of your devices and online accounts
• Shred all sensitive documents with any personal information
• Do not open or respond to emails that ask for sensitive personal information like social security number, bank account information, etc. This is known as “phishing.”
What do you hope participants learn from this event?
The AARP Fraud Watch Network is working to empower you to protect yourself from fraud and scams. Vigilance against scammers is our number one weapon. By taking a few practical steps, you have the power to protect yourself and your family and stop fraud before it happens. Everything we offer is free – whether or not you’re a member.
For info and to register, email contact firstname.lastname@example.org or call 410-837-2050 x1107.
The LGBT Health Resource Center of Chase Brexton Health Care is to provide LGBTQ individuals and their families with welcoming access to expert health information and resources that will enhance wellness and quality of life. For more information, visit ResourceCenter.lgbt.
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