I've spent a good amount of time on bank-related activity this week, since someone managed to add a name to our bank account, transfer our meager savings into our checking, then transfer the whole caboodle to themselves.
As I sat in the bank, waiting while various accounts were cancelled and new accounts were set up, I chatted with the bank officer. I commented that fraud was certainly an odd but effective form of economic stimulus: it keeps lots of people employed, ranging from the bank officer to the bank's entire fraud department, and gives jobs to people at the Attorney General's office and credit agencies. The ripple effect is impressive.
Earlier that day a friend had emailed me the link to the FTC's page on identity theft. I'd also recalled that a friend who had gone through this last summer said it's necessary to extend the credit protection beyond the free 90-day period, since people who steal information have every incentive to sit on it until no one is paying attention any more. And so, as I sat in the bank chair, I had time to be grateful for that information, since it makes life a bit easier to manage.
Someone who had just given me a check for helping her daughter write college essays, texted me to say, "I'll bring you cash, instead." Several other people immediately offered cash advances, should we need liquidity. Sitting in the bank, I had time to be mindful of how many good, helpful people I know. That helped to keep this event, caused by someone who doesn't know me and certainly doesn't care, in perspective.
Also on the plus side: I will have no trouble staying within a Christmas budget this year.
I told the bank officer that I think the best possible defense against the bad guys is simply to be aware, each and every day, how many good people there are in the world, and to choose to be one of them.
Here's why I think that's true: when I consider the things people said that made a difference in my life, I can pretty much guarantee that not one of those people has any recollection of the conversations I recall so well. That tells me the most important thing I can do is to be the best person I can be in each and every interaction I have each day. Because you never, ever know whose life you're going to change with what you say.