By: Erin Rose Hennessy
Warnings of identity thieves, credit card scammers, and check snatching are everywhere. “Be careful!” They say. “Danger lurks. The Evil waits to steal everything you own and make your life miserable in the process.” Next Halloween, I should dress up as an identity thief.
Ever notice though, how warnings like these become so repetitive that the general population starts tuning them out? “Yeah, yeah, yeah….” We say. “Don’t give out your personal information, we know, but we also need to pay bills, buy groceries and confirm our identity.” So, we become numb to these warnings as we go about our daily business. Until that one inevitable day when it happens to us.
This past Sunday, my mom and I were out on our bi-weekly grocery run. We normally do the mailbox, Target, and then Cub Foods, in that order. But you know how it is. We started talking about our life, our woes, our feats. Did you know I can finally do Warrior Pose in Yoga?! Right now, I’ve only mastered left leg balance while the right is in the air, but I can hold that for several seconds! Those who know me know what a klutz I am and can barely stand on my two feet, so this is quite the extraordinary feat in itself.
Wait, what was that? We’re at Target already? Aw, man, we forgot to go to the mailbox first! We’ll just leave the mail here in plain sight because otherwise we’ll forget it’s there. Um, yeah, except….
“Oh, there’s a mailbox right outside Cub Foods! I’ll just run our mail to this box instead of doubling back to the post office.”
“Um….where’s the mail?”
Naturally, our first thought was that we ourselves had done something with it. We searched our purses, the car, under the seats, in the glove compartment. My mom’s car was locked, but it has keyless entry. Thieves aren’t always foiled by keyless entry.
Well, crap. What was in the mail? Checks. Hers was a bill. Mine was a $20 check for Emily so we could get our new E&E Enterprise business cards printed up. I even wrapped it in a Valentine for her. It was a really cute Grumpy Cat valentine that I thought fit her well. And that nasty, no good scoundrel stole it. Oh, and my check.
No Good Thief (herein called NGT) now had access to our bank account numbers. When a thief has that, they can drain your entire account. If people have identifying information on their checks, the NGT can use it to steal much more, like your identity. Now, because all I have on there is my name and address (not my social security number or Minnesota state ID), at least all that was compromised was my checking account number.
It was hard not to panic, but I channeled Super Teacher Erin mode. Since it was Sunday, the banks weren’t open. (Although apparently there is a branch in Eagan that is open for three hours on Sundays.) But, what is always open? Corporate. I called The Big Guns. His name was Isaac at TBG, and Isaac the Awesome had both our bank accounts on hold before we arrived home. Isaac told us that since no otherwise crucial information was on the checks, we’d be safe simply placing a hold on our accounts until we could get to our usual branch the next day and clear up the matter.
Thieves Are Evil! I wrote that on my whiteboard in the kitchen and went about my day. I was actually pretty impressed at the lack of worry on my part after Isaac placed the holds. I went to my bank on Monday and closed out my old account. Don’t worry, UCare. I left just enough money for you. That check got mailed the day before. Having duplicate or carbon copy checks is a lifesaver. I brought my ID and checkbook and since I had rhe exact number of the check that was stolen, and the number of the previous check (UCare) , they were able to flag the bad one and allow the good one in.
I get brand new checks with my new address on them! Stupid NGT doesn’t even have the correct address. Or any money. And they’ve committed mail fraud to boot.
Sometimes, crime really doesn’t pay. Sometimes, it pays to be on top of them.
Super Teacher Erin powers activate!