Senior Expo opens Wednesday in Timonium

Identity theft seminar is part of two-day event

October 06, 2003|By David Anderson | David Anderson,SUN STAFF

What organizers bill as the state's longest-running senior expo opens Wednesday at the Maryland State Fairgrounds in Timonium.

A crowd of 8,000 is expected over two days at the Baltimore County Department of Aging's 17th annual Senior Expo. The expo runs from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. Wednesday and 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Thursday.

Susan Green, chief organizer of the event, said the expo is designed to provide seniors and their relatives with information about services available to them. It also raises money for needy county seniors. This year, the expo will feature the Scam Jam, a seminar sponsored by the Better Business Bureau of Greater Maryland on how seniors can protect themselves from swindlers.

Chuck Whitlock, an investigative reporter and author of several books on schemes, will discuss identity theft, which is "the fastest growing and potentially most devastating scam in the country," according to the business bureau.

The Department of Aging said that identity theft affects people of all ages but that seniors are among the most vulnerable.

"The problem with scams is people are embarrassed and are afraid to report it," said Arnold Eppel, director of the department. "Seniors are more vulnerable because they're isolated and by themselves."

Scam Jam seminars will take place at 11:15 a.m. and 2 p.m. Wednesday and at 11 a.m. Thursday.

Eppel said thieves could steal people's credit cards or rummage through recycling bins, taking documents such as bank statements and credit card offers. To counter this, expo organizers will offer paper shredders as door prizes.

After expenses, expo proceeds go the Department of Aging's Fund for Needy Seniors to help pay for such things as utilities and medications. This year, money will also go to elderly victims of Tropical Storm Isabel.

Eppel said the department has been providing money to help clean yards and basements but has no funds left.

"The reality is, how can they get their yards clear of debris and their basements clear of mud and their carpets pulled up?" he asked. "How can they do that? They're not young anymore."

Besides the seminars, the expo will feature 150 exhibitors providing information on services such as health care, leisure activities and retirement communities. Flu and pneumonia shots will also be available for $20 and $25, respectively. The shots are free to those with Medicare B coverage.

The expo will feature entertainment. Phyllis George, Miss America 1971, Ms. Baltimore County Senior and Ms. Maryland Senior also will appear.

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