Honesty equals rarity

Justin Law

Sometimes, as I watch the news and the world around me, I lose a little more faith in humanity.  

There are stories everywhere that make me shake my head at how dishonest people can be.  Fortunately, my faith was restored and I learned a valuable lesson after an incident on campus.cardsvec

I lost my debit card last Wednesday after it fell out of my pocket.  I didn’t discover it was missing until several hours later and, even after retracing my steps, I still hadn’t found it.  This led me to think of the damage someone could do if they found it.

After quickly calling the bank to cancel the card, I reported it to security on the rare chance it would be turned in.  A few hours later, much to my surprise, I got a phone call.

It had been found.

I’d like to thank the person who turned it in, even though the card has been destroyed.  Thanks to this person’s honesty, a potentially bad situation was avoided.

The incident reminded me that, even though there are honest people, it is important to protect yourself from becoming a victim.

In 2009, one in 10 people were a victim of identity theft, according to Javelin Strategy and Research.

Although my identity is safe, I have witnessed firsthand how much trouble identity theft can cause.     

A few years ago, my dad was in Detroit on business when his briefcase was stolen.  A few days after he reported it to the police, it was found along a highway.  Although his driver’s license and wallet were inside, his credit cards and checkbook had been stolen.

Everything was canceled but the trouble didn’t stop.  He began getting phone calls about attempts to open various accounts in his name from various states.  

As if that wasn’t enough, he and my mother share a joint account, which allowed someone to access her information and charge items to her cards.

In an effort to prevent the USI community from suffering a similar fate, I urge everyone to be extremely careful with personal information.

Scambusters.org, along with many other web sites, provides recommendations for keeping your identity safe. One suggestion is to purchase a lock box for identification cards and other important paperwork, such as student loan and banking information.  

It is also important to always keep an eye on your wallet, even in class.  Just like my situation, it might fall out without you realizing it’s gone.

If you do become a victim, it is very important to get it taken care of immediately.  

First, activate a fraud charge on your credit report.  This can be done by contacting one of three companies, whose information can be found through the Federal Trade Commission’s (FTC) website.  

Next, contact any credit or banking company you think may have been used.  They can cancel the card and issue a new number, often for a small fee.  

After the accounts are taken care of, file a complaint with the FTC.  Information on this process is also available on the website.

Finally, contact the police to file a report.

The most important thing to remember is identity theft can strike anyone at any time.  Although there are honest people willing to do the right thing, our identity is never safe.