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AARP Gives Advice on Protecting Your Digital Identity

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Washington residents are at risk of their personal information being uncovered by identity thieves.

Between July 2016 and July 2017, the Washington attorney general's office estimates 3 million Washington residents had their information compromised.

The AARP sponsored an event Thursday in Spokane Valley to inform consumers of how to better protect their personal information, like bank accounts.

AARP state director Doug Shadel says senior are often a prime target for identity thieves.

“The scammers we interviewed said seniors are targets for identity fraud because they have good credit, and they don’t monitor their accounts, so the combination of those two things make them vulnerable,” Shadel said.

He says it is crucial that everyone closely monitors their online bank accounts, credit cards, and retirement accounts to see if there is any suspicious activity.

He says another important protective option is to get a credit freeze.

“That means that bad guys, if they get your information, can’t open new accounts in your name. If you want to open a new account though, all you have to do is contact the credit bureau, and thaw it for 48 hours, and apply, and then it re-freezes after that.” he said.

Shadel also advises to never use the same password for more than one account.

Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson also spoke at the information session Thursday. He said, three years ago, the state had some of the most lenient laws when it came to protecting consumers from credit fraud. He says things have dramatically improved since then, but more needs to be done, such as shortening the time required by banks or others to tell consumers a breach has occurred.

“For example the deadline is 45 days to inform consumers," Ferguson said. "We think that should be 20, 30 at the most. We think additional protections should be required of entities to make sure they use the current technology to protect social security number and bank accounts. We think that should be on there as well.”

You can get more tips on avowing credit fraud by visiting the AARP website.

Steve was part of the Spokane Public Radio family for many years before he came on air in 1999. His wife, Laurie, produced Radio Ethiopia in the late 1980s through the '90s, and Steve used to “lurk in the shadowy world” of Weekend SPR. Steve has done various on air shifts at the station, including nearly 15 years as the local Morning Edition host. Currently, he is the voice of local weather and news during All Things Considerd, writing, editing, producing and/or delivering newscasts and features for both KPBX and KSFC. Aside from SPR, Steve ,who lives in the country, enjoys gardening, chickens, playing and listening to music, astronomy, photography, sports cars and camping.