This morning I had to ship some packages to the grandkids scattered across the nation. (In retrospect, I should have insisted that my children marry local kids to increase the chance they’d settle a little closer!) As I was standing at the shipping counter at the neighborhood ship and copy shop, I was a little surprised to be approached by an older gentleman, asking “Are you one of the radio ladies?” When I responded in the affirmative, he shook his head and said how much we had been missed on the radio during the just-past election season. “We were just in the dark”, he remarked.
He then went on to say he was in the shop to copy everything in his wallet, as a reference in case it was stolen. This action was prompted by an experience his wife had in the past week. “I guess we’re both pretty gullible”, he observed. She answered their front door one day to find a woman and small child. “My car just broke down – may I please use your phone?” Of course the kindly grandma invited them in, and showed the woman to the phone. “Oh, and could you take my little girl to the potty while I make my phone call?” Again the hostess agreed.
Only after the woman and child left did his wife discover that her purse had been rifled, and her wallet stolen. Police were called, and brought forward several prospective suspects, but none matched his wife’s mental picture of the perpetrator. Her wallet and the items it contained are not likely to ever be retrieved.
“You know, it’s hard to remember everything you’ve got in your wallet. We’ve spent the last week calling the banks, the credit card companies, Social Security, and even Medicare. Can you believe it? She made off with my Medicare number. So today I’m going to copy everything in my pocket, just in case my wallet goes missing, too.” He explained that he shared this experience with me as a cautionary tale, hoping to prevent a similar robbery for others.
As I finished paying for my packages, he was busily laying out the entire contents of his wallet on the glass surface of a nearby copy machine. We wished each other a happy Thanksgiving before I returned to my car. But I couldn’t stop thinking about the experience as I drove home. I hope it will make an impact on you, too, as you deal with your fellow man (and woman).
Kindness is usually the right decision, but sometimes we must temper our better nature by assessing the safety issues before proceeding. It’s better to risk being thought inconsiderate than to hazard becoming a statistic ourselves. To learn more about common scams making the rounds, contact the local Better Business Bureau, and bone up on deterrents to identity theft.