Local author, identity theft expert to speak at library

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BROOKINGS – The Brookings Public Library will host an author talk with Dr. Axton Betz-Hamilton at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 21. 

She will discuss her new book, “The Less People Know About Us: A Mystery of Betrayal, Family Secrets, and Stolen Identity.” The event is free and open to the public.

Betz-Hamilton grew up in small town Indiana in the early ’90s. When she was 11 years old, both of her parents had their identities stolen, before the age of the internet when identity theft became more commonplace. The authorities and banks were clueless and reluctant to help her parents as the family struggled. 

Betz-Hamilton’s family switched P.O. boxes, changed their personal information, and moved to different addresses, but the identity thief followed them wherever they went. Convinced that the thief had to be someone they knew, Betz-Hamilton and her parents completely cut off the outside world, isolating themselves from friends and family. 

She learned not to let anyone into the house without explicit permission, she had panic attacks throughout her formative years, and she was quarantined behind the closed curtains in her childhood home. Her clothes, hair, makeup and weight could be nothing short of perfect or she would be scolded by her mother, who had become paranoid and consumed by how others perceived the family.

Years later, her parent’s marriage still shaken from the theft, Betz-Hamilton discovered that she, too, had fallen prey to the identity thief, but by the time she realized, she was already thousands of dollars in debt and her credit was ruined.

“The Less People Know About Us” is Betz-Hamilton’s unsettling story to untangle an intricate web of lies and pain. She presents a candid, shocking, and redemptive story and reveals her courageous effort to grapple with someone who broke the unwritten rules of love, protection and family. 

Publisher’s Weekly calls it a “shocking debut ... tension of a thriller ... jaw-dropping revelations. Astonishing and disturbing, this emotionally resonant book is perfect for true crime fans.”

Betz-Hamilton is an expert in identity theft, having personal experience that she’s now turned into a career. She frequently speaks on the topic at a wide range of conferences and has won multiple awards for her research, teaching and service. 

Betz-Hamilton has a master’s degree in consumer sciences and retailing and a PhD in human development and family studies, focusing on child identity theft and elder financial exploitation perpetrated by family members. She teaches at South Dakota State University.

To learn more about Betz-Hamilton and her book, visit https://www.hachettebookgroup.com/contributor/axton-betz-hamilton/.

For additional information about the programs and services of the Brookings Public Library, visit www.brookingslibrary.org and be sure to follow the library on Facebook @bkglib. 

The mission of Brookings Public Library is to provide materials and information contributing to the education, recreation, and quality of life for the Brookings community.

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