At the latest Empowerment session, co-hosted by Jewish Seniors Alliance and JCC Seniors on Jan. 27, Philip Morris offers advice on avoiding fraud, scams and identity theft. (photo by Binny Goldman)
It was interesting to me – a person who still enjoys using one of the “original computers,” namely, the pencil – that I was about to attend a workshop entitled Technology: Give us the Tools to Finish the Job.
On Jan. 27, about 100 people gathered in the Jewish Community Centre of Greater Vancouver’s Wosk Auditorium to hear three experts in the field of technology at a workshop hosted by Jewish Seniors Alliance in partnership with the JCC seniors department. It was the second session of the current season’s JSA Snider Empowerment series.
JCC seniors program coordinator Leah Deslauriers welcomed the audience and outlined the afternoon’s activities, while Gyda Chud welcomed everyone on behalf of JSA. Chud explained how she was introduced to JSA via the Peretz Centre for Secular Jewish Culture four years ago and that JSA is always looking for new partners in its aim to make its workshops easily available and accessible to all who may be interested. Chud added that she hoped the Technology session would help build her own confidence when it came to computers and other aspects of the tech world.
Noting that living is learning, the first speaker, Stan Goldman, demonstrated the simplicity of mobile technology. Once one learns how to use the iPad, the knowledge can be applied to the iPhone, which uses the same system, and one may watch free movies, read free ebooks and newspapers, and get email by accessing the right app. To illustrate, Goldman and Deslauriers used voice commands to ask for directions, dictate an email and do advanced math. Goldman offered a seemingly endless list of things that can be done with this technology, including Skyping with family and friends in other countries, enjoying music, playing games, etc. – all by using apps, many of which are free. The world is, indeed, at your fingertips.
Philip Morris, an expert on fraud, scams and identity theft, spoke next. He said that, once we have let the world in, so to speak, we must be cautious when using our devices – protecting them with passwords, and keeping private our personal information (social insurance numbers, birth certificates, passports, etc.) and not easily accessible to hackers. Morris advised shredding all discarded documents and, when buying a new cellphone, making sure all of the personal information has been deleted from the old phone, as hackers can retrieve data from seemingly wiped phones. It is important to be alert in public places, to keep wallets and purses out of easy reach and to ensure that you have received your own credit card from the server in a restaurant. He also suggested taking a photograph of passports and credit cards in case of theft.
New words have been coined, such as “smishing,” the ability to obtain information from people’s texts. Morris recommended changing passwords annually and, when writing cheques in payment for credit cards, to reference only the last four numbers of the card. To report a theft or loss, Morris gave two numbers to call to check your credit profile: 1-800-465-7166 (Equifax) or 1-800-663-9980 (TransUnion Canada). For instances of fraud, he said to call the Canadian Anti-fraud Centre, 1-888-495-8501.
Mark White, “the gizmo guru,” gave advice on the latest fun gadgets, including some lesser-known ones, and where to get them. As far as finding directions, however, he warned people to keep paper maps on hand in case the technology fails to connect. White added that he reads the Vancouver Sun’s online version, and that the library offers many newspapers online to members. In order to keep Skype conversations private, he suggested using earphones if Skyping in a public place.
Isaac Waldman Jewish Public Library librarian Rossana Caritey explained that the Waldman has an extensive collection of ebooks, which can be read on any device – ebook readers, laptops, for example. If someone brings in their device, a librarian or volunteer can show them how to download books. Waldman librarian Helen Pinsky handed out further information to attendees.
Chud thanked the speakers, noting that each of them had exhibited in their talks the mission and ideals of JSA – that of advocating for, inspiring, educating others to be the best they can be.
The audience retired to enjoy light refreshments. Long lines formed at the workstations set up in the auditorium, clearly showing the keen interest in the session. The workshop may have eased many fears, allowing timid souls to venture through the now-open doors leading to new technological possibilities.
Binny Goldman is a member of the Jewish Seniors Alliance of Greater Vancouver board.