Tuesday, December 27, 2011
Things are looking up
Last night I also slept the best I have in days. Some of my blogging friends have real difficulty sleeping, so today I am feeling much more understanding, after two nights of anxious tossing and turning. Last night, however, I turned a corner, and today my life feels like it's getting back on track. I can actually start thinking about other things. I've learned some valuable lessons. Here are a few.
This kind of theft is increasing exponentially as people get more desperate. The thieves ALWAYS fill their car with gas as their first move. A red flag is when they fill two or three cars all at once. Women are often targeted, because they carry a purse and usually leave it in the car when exercising. They watch for that. The trunk is a better option, but the police told me if I leave valuables there that I place it BEFORE arriving at my destination, so that nobody sees me open the trunk. Covering your valuables with a coat or a pillow is also a red flag to the thieves.
Women in grocery stores are a target because they leave their purses in the basket as they peruse the shelves. This is when they will walk right up and take your purse while your back is turned. The policeman told me of a woman just today who accidentally left her wallet at Home Depot, and by the time she found where it was, more than $2100 had been charged to her account.
There are two kinds of theft: property and identity. Both are felonies, but identity fraud needs to be handled separately, since police cannot take your word for what happened, your bank needs to give you a detailed report of what happened with your cards so you can make a separate fraud report. The only important thing I still have to do is to get ahold of annualcreditreport.com and use their free report to find if anybody is trying to set up new accounts in my name. They offer a free 30-day fraud alert to make sure nobody is trying to steal my identity. That's my task for this week.
What I am hoping is that my misfortune will serve to warn some of my beloved community to protect yourself from this happening to you. The biggest shock I received today when I turned in the police report is to learn that here, in Bellingham, more than 40 to 50 of these thefts happen every single day! With the police departments being cut back, there are fewer and fewer enforcement officers to follow through to catch these criminals. They get away with it, sometimes until they must feel they are entitled to our stuff. What can we do to change this scary trend?
One of the most important things I've learned in the last few days is that yes, it's a violation of my life, but move on and do not let myself become a victim of identity fraud! The number of people who have told me of their own experiences makes me realize that suspicion is a more reasonable response than trust when somebody calls, or emails, or pretends to be offering something that seems too good to be true.
If you can convince me that this is the wrong choice, I'm all ears. You will be talking to a disillusioned Pollyanna...