An employee locker at work doesn’t mean your valuables are safe from a roaming thief. A metro woman left hers in what she thought was a safe place.
Melissa Sapienza works at an Omaha care facility and like some co-workers left her purse in an unlocked employee locker. She believes a man pretending to be visiting patients went looking for open lockers. He found her purse and took her billfold. Within two hours the thief ran up nearly $1,000 in purchases from groceries to booze. Luckily her bank noticed suspicious buys and canceled the card. Melissa said, “He was able to use my card without having to show id. My name is on it and he’s obviously not Melissa.”
She obtained security camera footage from one store which shows the man making purchases with her card. A second time the suspect hands the card to a woman who also buys items. Melissa hopes the video will lead to a tip police can follow-up on.
The thief also took her driver license, nursing license and several other cards that can be used for identity theft. Melissa said, “I thought I worked in a secure environment and here this guy is able to come in and lift my billfold without anyone noticing.” Melissa bought a new billfold and a lock to secure her purse in the future.
Credit Advisors of Omaha offers tips on idnetity theft
Prepare to have your purse or wallet stolen or lost:
· Do not carry your social security card in your wallet unless you know that you will need it that day (for a new job, to open a bank account, to apply for a passport, etc.) The types of activity that require you to produce a Social Security card are few and far between. This document is too valuable to be carried with you casually every day.
· Only carry the amount of cash that you will need to have with you for the day.
· Remember that pre-paid debit cards are the equivalent of cash. Make certain you know how to report the card missing so that you can protect the balance.
· Do not carry irreplaceable mementos in your wallet. It should be utilitarian and contain just what you will require until you return home. The most devastating part of a stolen or lost wallet is usually the photo, the note from a loved one or the small token that holds special meaning.
· Carry only those instruments of credit that you may need to use while you are out. Do not carry every credit card you have.
· Do not carry your checkbook unless you know you will write a check that day.
· Your wallet or billfold is the worst place to store your miscellaneous cards and secondary personal identification. Create a secure location in your home where you store your Social Security cards, passports, extra cash, credit cards, gift cards, EBT card and checkbook.
· Keep a list of your credit cards, account numbers, and contact numbers for the creditors in a secure location separate from your wallet or billfold. You will need this for the police report and to contact the creditors to inactivate the cards.
· Regularly clear out your purse, wallet or billfold to remove any unnecessary documents that provide more information about your family and your life than you would want the average stranger to have.
· Password protect your electronic devices that are carried on your person or in your bag. Review your contacts and personal information that is accessible through these devices. Do not store your account information or passwords
What to do if your wallet or purse is lost or stolen:
Notify your bank. Most women carry a checkbook in their wallet and men usually carry a single check in their billfold even if they do not carry their checkbook. This would provide your bank’s routing number and your account number – all that is needed to initiate an electronic payment or transfer out of your account. They will want to know the last legitimate check you wrote. Ask that checks presented for payment have the signature manually verified. Inactivate your debit card. To be truly safe, open a new account. A person in possession of your social security card can access your accounts and initiate transactions.
· Contact every credit card company whose card may be compromised and report that card stolen. Inquire about any recent charges to the account.
· File a police report. If your cards or bank accounts are used, it may make the process of disputing the charges or amounts lost if you have a police report on file.
· Go on line to FTC.gov and to IRS.gov to file a report on each that will help you if your identity is stolen or prevent another from using your social security number to obtain employment of file false tax returns.
· Contact the 3 major credit bureaus to advise them of the potential identity theft. Obtain a copy of your report as it is today (before any damage can be done) and add a consumer comment regarding the loss to your files. Consider a credit freeze until you get a feel for the possible misuse of your information.
· Contact the DMV to determine what steps need to be taken to obtain a replacement license or state ID. You will want the old one flagged as invalid so that no one uses it to identify themselves when ticketed or arrested.
· Consider changing your locks at home and in your car if the keys to your home and car were in your purse or if you carried a spare key in your wallet.
· Change the entry code for your garage door opener if your keys are involved in the loss or theft. Keys to your car can get the thief access to your garage door opener which lets them in the house.
· Contact your insurance carrier (health, auto, etc) and ask that a new policy number be issued to prevent the use of your information in a traffic accident or to obtain medical care.
· Contact any other membership, affinity, library or gym membership for which you carried cards to issue new cards with a different number.
· Remember to change your passwords for any account that was compromised.