Sunday, August 3, 2014

Be Alert: A PSA

This is a different kind of post for me today, but one that I feel that I should share.

Last Friday I forgot my lunch at home.
On the counter.
It was that kind of day.

My co-worker and I decided to run across the street to grab a quick lunch, and since we weren't in any hurry, we decided to eat there rather than at our desks.
A social attempt that had a rather unfortunate outcome.

You see, Jason's Deli at Lake and Dearborn is a popular lunch spot, full of tables close together and plenty of people.
When I was bumped into I didn't think anything of it.
I saw my purse rock back and forth on the back of my chair but went back to my salad without a care.

When I got back to my desk about 20 minutes later, I received an email and a phone call from Bank of America simultaneously.
Fraudulent charges.


In a panic I ran back to the deli and spent the next few hours canceling my life, filing a police report and trying to breathe.

I felt so stupid, but more than that I felt...violated.

Sure, it could have been worse: I could have been mugged, my whole purse could have been stolen, the bank could have not notified me right away and more charges could have happened, etc. 

And, I guess, if this is the first time this has happened and I've lived in large cities since 2007 then I think I'm doing pretty well on the fraud front.

But here's the thing: I am OCD about checking my purse on the train and everywhere. I am constantly on alert. Chicago is lovely but is also quite scary, so I always know my surroundings.

However, I always hang my purse on the back of any chair that I sit in public.
And my every day purse doesn't have a zipper.
And my wallet was big and easy to spot.

Never again.

I will carry bags with zippers from now on and I will either have my bag on me or in between both feet able to be seen in full view. Every woman I have told my story to was shocked and all said that they hang their purses on the back of their chairs. I hope I changed their minds the next time they are out!

Please don't make my mistake and think that it won't happen to you because you are smarter than me: don't hang your purse on the back of your chair where you can't see it! My co-worker sat across from me and didn't see it happen, so it's definitely possible that this could happen to you, too. 
Don't tempt fate! 

You may not live in a big city, or you may live in a different city, but theft and fraud happen everywhere. Please be alert. Canceling cards and payments and opening new accounts is a real pain. 
And the uncertainty and fear isn't fun, either.

I'm so thankful Andrew came to meet me, calmed me down and helped me out with everything. He's the best!

I promise happier posts in the future, but I had to share my experience to hopefully prevent this from happening to you :)

Joining linkups to spread the word:

Mingle 240


Susan said...

Oh my gosh - I am so sorry to hear this. Thank goodness your bank alerted you so quickly!! Thanks for sharing - I always leave my purse hanging on my chair! But no more!

Megan @ Chicago Girl said...

Ugh. I hate this post:( So sorry you had to go through this.

Rachel said...

I am so sorry--that is really sad and scary, but I think it was a good thing that you posted it. I grew up in a part of Asia where petty theft and purse snatching was very common, so purses with both a zipper and then a flap covering the zipper are important to me, and I was always taught to walk with my hand on the opening of my purse--I think when you're sitting down, the purse on your lap or between your feet or with one foot threaded through the handles (I've done that before!) is a really good idea!

Katie Elizabeth said...

Ugh, this is terrible! And so scary. My car was broken into on the street here in Chicago once and you are right -- violated is the best word to describe it. Hoping you get everything worked out and replaced soon!

Jenn said...

Im sorry this happened to you--I've had things stolen before (one time someone took my purse at a private party!!) and it is the biggest feeling of violation ever. It's definitely important to be aware of surroundings at all times, but VERY easy to become comfortable about it. Glad you're alright despite the incident

Stephanie said...

That happened to my friend Ida at the Elephant and Castle on Clark and Adams. :( It's awful!
Perks of being lazy like me - I'm too lazy to get out a wallet every time, so most days my debit card is in my bra. True story.

Michelle said...

Thank you for opening our eyes.
I try to be alert, but maybe I need to be more aware.
Sounds like there are some tricky criminals out there.
Especially since your co-worker didn't see it happen and she was right across from you.
Kinda scary....

I'm visiting from Mingle Monday.

Julie said...

Wow, now you've got me thinking what do I do with my purse when I'm eating out. Certainly going to pay closer attention!

Stopping by from Mingle Monday :)

Leeann @ Join the Gossip said...

Oh no!! That's so scary, and I do the same thing, so it hits close to home. I've had identity theft so this is a great reminder of why it's important to be safe. Thanks for the tips and I hope all is OK on your end!

Thanks for linking up, also :)

Ericka said...

So Sorry that this happened and you have to deal with this! I always hang my purse on the back of my chair too. Right now, my purse has a zipper, but I don't always carry the same one. Thanks for sharing and making us all aware.