Axton Betz-Hamilton, AFC® is an Assistant Professor of Consumer Affairs at South Dakota State University. She is also the author of the forthcoming book, “The Less People Know About Us: A Mystery of Betrayal, Family Secrets and Stolen Identity,” in which shares her personal experience with familial identity theft.
AFCPE: What inspired you to pursue a career in personal finance?
Axton: My personal experience as a victim of identity theft and the lack of understanding and support for identity theft victims at that time (2001) inspired me to pursue a career to help increase public understanding of identity theft.
AFCPE: Your personal history with familial identity theft is fascinating. Tell us more about your personal experience and how it influenced your career path.
Axton: My identity was stolen when I was 11 years old–the same year my parents’ identities were stolen, but I didn’t know my identity had been stolen until I was 19 and I applied for electric service at my first apartment. To make a long story short, my mother was the perpetrator; her identity had never been stolen and we did not discover my mom was the perpetrator until 13 days after she passed away. In addition to wanting to help increase public understanding of identity theft, I wanted to learn as much as I could about identity theft to hopefully identify the perpetrator–and I ended up accomplishing that.
AFCPE: Your book, “The Less People Know About Us: A Mystery of Betrayal, Family Secrets and Stolen Identity”, recently received a starred review from Publisher’s Weekly. Congrats! How was the experience of writing and publishing a book?
Axton: It’s a lengthy process. I was contacted by a literary agent in 2016 shortly after I appeared on a podcast show called Criminal. I worked with that literary agent to secure a book deal and began the writing process in 2017. The process of writing the book has been educational for me, with regard to learning more about my mother as well as learning about the publishing process. Writing this book has definitely NOT been a solo endeavor – it’s involved my agent, editor, copyeditor, publicists, legal counsel, and others.
AFCPE: You’ve been an active member of AFCPE for more than 5 years. What do you enjoy most about being a part of the AFCPE community?
Axton: AFCPE is a very inclusive community of professionals. If you want to be involved, all you have to do is say so and you will be included!
AFCPE: What’s next for you? In relation to your work, what’s got you most excited right now?
Axton: The upcoming launch of my book (October 15) is exciting as it is something I have never experienced before.
Axton Answers the Friday 4:
- My Why: To help others understand the impact of identity theft.
- My Favorite Personal Finance Resource: I’m reading the Wiley CFP® exam review books. Information is provided in “bite-sized” pieces so you can learn something new/review something in between meetings, riding public transit, etc.
- My Best Advice for: Someone starting the journey to financial well-being: Start by setting short-term goals, such as paying off a credit card by the end of the year and make room in your budget to do so. When you accomplish those short-term goals, you will feel more confident in setting and accomplishing more long-term goals, such as saving for a child’s college education or retirement.
- My Best Advice for: A new professional entering the field: Network, network, network! There are many different types of career opportunities in this field–networking will help connect you with opportunities that will help you identify the career opportunities you are best suited for.
Where can the AFCPE community connect with you? (website, social media, etc.)