Walla Walla YWCA to host seminar on identity theft

Tuesday's discussion at the YWCA will focus on how to avoid being victimized.

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WALLA WALLA -- The Walla Walla Asset Building Coalition will present "Identity Theft, Fraud, You: A Public Discussion" on Tuesday, with a light pizza supper starting at 6 p.m. Child care will be provided, but seating and pizza are limited.

The free event takes place at the YWCA, 213 S. First Ave., and will feature Bonnie Bowton of Banner Bank, city police Detective Sgt. Matt Wood and Deana York, director of the Impact Program at Walla Walla Community College.

Identity theft and fraud are growing problems here and elsewhere and have been identified by the coalition as the two financial topics of most interest in our community, said Noah Leavitt, coalition coordinator. "We've been told over and over that area residents have been victims of and are worried about ID theft."

Washington state Attorney General Rob McKenna says identity theft is "the biggest threat consumers face in Washington state."

It affects people of all ages and income levels, from young people still in school or just beginning their careers to retirees, many of whom live on fixed incomes, he noted.

Tuesday's discussion will cover what local residents can do to protect themselves. "This isn't something going on in California or on the East Coast. It's here and we have to be vigilant," said Vicki Ruley, crime prevention coordinator for the Walla Walla Police Department. "Our seniors are getting hit especially hard by these scams, and some of them have lost their savings and homes."

Awareness is key in fighting identity theft. Bowton will share tips about what to look for in e-mail, phone and mail scams, highlighting "red flags" and how banks can help protect their customers and their accounts.

Drawing from her own identity theft experience and what she learned from it, York will discuss the three things to do immediately if you become a victim of identity theft and preventive measures to take.

For more information about this and other programs of the Asset Building Coalition contact coordinator Noah Leavitt at nsleavitt@hotmail.com.

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