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Surefire Method for Mitigating the Effects of Identity Theft

“This is a reminder to take inventory of what’s in our wallets,” my colleague said after he and I learned about a potential identity crisis.

Note: Only the name of the subject in this scenario has been changed to protect the innocent.

It was around lunchtime when my friend, Sarah, called in a panic because she lost her wallet earlier that morning. She had left it on a bench at the mall. Of course, when she went back to the spot where she remembered setting it down, it was no longer there. Hours had passed and the designer wallet with her identification, all her credit cards, and some cash had grown legs and walked away.

Sarah called me to ask if I could meet her at our Credit Union branch because she needed to get cash and she was not sure her employment badge and some mail would satisfy the identification requirement. She had already cancelled all her credit cards and was on her way back to the mall to file an official police report, hoping investigators would sift through surveillance videos to find the culprit.

So, I grabbed our mutual friend, my colleague Mike Bunner, Vice President of Marketing at Franklin Mint Federal Credit Union, and asked him to join me. We were going to give Sarah a hard time to try to cheer her up. That’s the Philly way.

Bless her heart, despite the chaos, Sarah was in good spirits. Sure, she was beating herself up a bit, but she was so happy to see friendly faces. Mike and I asked her questions typical of the circumstance. Had she called all credit card companies? Did she have any other financial institution’s cards in the wallet? Were there any other forms of identification, like rewards cards? She said her Social Security card was gone, too. That’s when our friendly ribbing turned much more serious.

I probably should have been more sensitive but my immediate reaction was to blurt out, “What! You carry your social security card around?” Mike was much more sensible. He advised Sarah to contact the three credit bureaus. Whoever had taken her wallet had everything they needed to become Sarah on a loan application.

Within a half hour of leaving the Credit Union, Sarah texted Mike and me to let us know she found her wallet. She said her faith in humanity had been restored. Earlier, mall security had said no one turned in a wallet. On a whim, upon returning to the mall, she decided to check with the clerks in the store adjacent to the bench where she had left it. Sure enough, a Good Samaritan had found the wallet and brought it into the store in case the owner came back looking for it. Not a dime was missing.

All’s well that ends well.

Every story, every life experience offers valuable takeaways. We are reminded to avoid carrying our Social Security cards; instead, memorize the number and keep the card somewhere safe like a safety deposit box.

Mike’s sage advice resonated with me. “This is a reminder to take inventory of what’s in our wallets.”

“Wow,” I responded. “I couldn’t even tell you what I have in my wallet between store cards, health insurance cards, and miscellaneous identification cards.” He advised I write it all down and keep it safe, accessible, and anywhere but in my wallet. Haha!

I thought about my husband who carries a stack of plastic, most of which he never uses but accumulated over the years from various stores. Would either of us be able to contact every organization connected to every piece of plastic in our wallets?

How about you? Could you answer the infamous Samuel L. Jackson question:

What’s in your wallet?

Another moral of this story has to do with attitude. When I spoke with Sarah later that day, I told her that I admired her good disposition through what was a harrowing experience. I would have been a mess and the entire world would have known it. She told me she was sick to her stomach but had a bit of hope because when she contacted her better half during the fiasco, he calmly told her not to worry about it. He was certain the wallet would show up.

Sarah said he always approaches life situations with a positive outlook and usually experiences positive results. “Amazing,” I thought. This guy knows how to harness the Law of Attraction.

An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. ~Ben Franklin

Optimists will get to work taking inventory of their wallets and reading up on the Law of Attraction.

Procrastinators will get around to these tasks later.

Cynics will write this story off as an anomaly and toss it aside.

I have one question:

What’s in your future?