SAYRE — Dozens of seniors packed into the Sons of Italy facility on Friday to learn more about the dangers of identity theft via a seminar hosted by state Rep. Tina Pickett, R-Wysox, and state Attorney General representative Janene Holter.
Cookies, coffee and refreshments were served throughout the event as Holter outlined the many methods that scammers typically use to take advantage of their victims.
“We want to bring information to you in the community, but we also want to hear what the community is going through so we can be more aware about how scammers are adapting,” she said.
Holter detailed how scammers contact their victims — typically via mail, phone or in person — and how to be prepared against identity theft.
“You are all good people and were raised to be polite,” she said. “But there are times where you just have to hang up the phone and know not to get involved with whatever they’re talking about.”
Holter noted that, last year, one in 16 Americans were the victims of identity theft — and the money stolen does not go to good causes.
“Much of this money funds terrorism or organized crime,” Holter said. “It also hurts the economy and obviously adds a significant amount of stress to you, personally.”
Holter advised members of the public to close any credit card accounts they don’t use, and to not use debit cards at the grocery store.
Additionally, Holter cautioned seniors against anyone contacting them regarding medical cards, which are due to be replaced soon.
“Some people might reach out to you and say that there’s a $5 charge to replace your card, but that is actually free,” she said. “Someone may also try to call you and ask to ‘verify’ your information. However, no one is supposed to call you about that.”
Holter encouraged those looking for more information about identity theft to call the consumer protection hotline at 1-800-441-2555.