Catching up — and a warning

It has been several months since my last post. I don’t really have a good excuse, other than I hit a rough patch. Winter makes me slightly depressed, and at some points I was dragging just to survive. I also had a major change at work (it was a good change!) but it’s meant that I feel like I’m just now catching up. I do have a backlog of posts that I’ve written, so there should be regular posting for a good while. Below is the first post, and while it’s a bit out of date now, I feel the message is important, so I’ll start with that.

I had an unfortunate event occur not too long ago. I had left my purse out in my office while I went to breakfast, and when I came back my wallet, cellphone, and mp3 player were missing. Since I had dropped my purse when I arrived and then had to rush to get my morning activities done, I thought at first that those items must have fallen out in the car before I got to my office. Turns out I was wrong, and I ended up kicking myself a lot for that mistake.

Fortunately (or unfortunately), I wasn’t the only one who had things taken. It appears the thief went around picking up items that had been left out, phones mostly. The person even got somebody’s car keys and took their car! My workplace is pretty casual; people leave out their phones or keys or music players all the time. However, our building was still somewhat under construction, with movers or contractors coming and going all the time. It’s been an eye-opener for everyone; many of us are being sure to watch each other’s offices more. I’ve made sure to lock my drawer now and take the keys with me no matter what.

Thankfully, once I decided that my things had indeed been stolen, I immediately set about cancelling my credit cards and locking down my bank account. I even started looking into what to do about my driver’s license, and what I should do if someone tried to use my health insurance information. Because my checkbook was in my wallet, I had to close down my old checking account and reopen with a different account number. My wallet was discovered later that day and returned to me, sans cash and credit cards. But my most identifying pieces of plastic were still there.

I reported my cell phone stolen, so that it couldn’t be used to rack up a huge bill. I also changed the passwords on my email, facebook, and financial accounts. It would only take a wifi connection, and the thief could get into whatever I had been logged into on my phone or mp3 player. Things that I had considered harmless conveniences now became serious threats.

I’m grateful for all the safety protocols of the companies involved, and within a week, things were somewhat back to normal. I had replacement cards, checks, and a shiny new bank account. I had to make sure that any auto-payments coming out of (or going into!) my account had changed over, and I’m sure I’ll still be finding places where I need to update to a new credit card as I purchase things online. I had phone insurance, and so I got a replacement phone within a few days.

I’ll be honest: all of this is jarring to me. I grew up in the country, and I swear none of us knew where the house keys were. Now I do things like lock the door even when I’m at home and always locking the car, thanks to influence from friends. I try to be aware of my surroundings at all times, and make eye contact when I pass someone on the street. But I’ve never actually been robbed, let alone at a place that I felt safe. Now, I’m examining every person who walks by my office with suspicion, and locking everything that can be locked, or carrying my valuables with me all the time.

I’d like to take this space to remind people to be aware of their environment and their belongings. Think about how much of your life would be exposed if someone got a hold of your phone or your wallet. Have a backup plan in case something like this does happen. Also be aware of what security questions your accounts have. Mine relied most prominently on my social security number (another reason not to carry your SS card with you all the time). If your info gets compromised, that could mean REALLY big trouble.