Last week, I finally got some relief in my stalemate with the San Francisco Police Department. I got my case number for my recent Identity Theft and have been connected to the SFPD Fraud Department, at least theoretically. No contact as yet, but the promise is hanging out there like a carrot suspended on a string. But, what I learned about this was pretty useful, so I share it with you today.
1. Sometimes you have to go around the system.
I followed directions and found myself going in a circle. Each person with whom I spoke had a suggestion, which always led me to the beginning of the circle. Without a case number, I had no law enforcement contact. The backlog at the Southern Station Police Department had created a major clog in my pipes! We set sail for San Francisco last Thursday morning, files in hand, and followed the GPS directions to the intended police station. To our surprise, we ended up at the Northern Station instead. We took this as a sign and marched inside to find the lobby empty, so the nice officer behind the counter could focus on my problem. He took my report, waded through my volumes of data and delivered the goods.
2. It's all in the delivery.
My mother used to say you can get more flies with honey than with vinegar. My first visit to the Southern Station was scary and confusing. I was alone and there were some creepy characters hanging around. As an added jab, parking was a flat fee of $15. Needless to say, I was pretty grouchy. I got no where. Shut down. My pleas for help got no response except for a blank form and a steely look from the officer at the desk. Phone calls yielded the same result.
My Music Man accompanied me on my second visit and I checked my attitude at the door, optimistic that I could persuade someone to help me. I was prepared to camp out in the lobby until someone helped me. I put on a nice dress, went in with a smile, and the sweetest attitude I could muster. I don't know if that strategy created the success, but it was certainly better for our psyche. My Music Man gave me added bonus points for the dress.
3. Be organized and prepared.
I've sorted my situation immaculately. My multiple files are impressive and there are tabs and notes. While providing the report, I could give complete and detailed answers without hesitation. I think the officer was impressed and so were the people who formed in line behind me. I certainly had my act together and given the amount of time invested, it has already significantly reduced my stress.
4. Cover all bases.
I've filed a criminal report with several law enforcement agencies - my local sheriff, the police department at the scene of the crime, the Federal Trade Commission, the postal service. I have multiple case numbers and give them to every single person to whom I speak. This way I create a web that connects and intersects. They don't ask, so I offer. I give the list, even if they don't want it.
I found this article in Money magazine that makes some bold suggestions and even provides feedback from other Identity Theft victims that mirror my own. Gee, I guess we're all feeling a bit abandoned out here in Consumer Land.
5. Expect a surprise ending.
Today's hero award goes out to the Nordstrom's Fraud Department. A gentle woman named Helene has become my heroine today. She's decided to take my case and connect all the dots together, including the theft of the rental car. Because my loss is greater than $20,000 she thinks that by binding the activities together we have a decent chance of getting the bad guys. It was a surprise to me that she wanted to get involved, and I could say it's because the culture of Nordstrom's is to provide exquisite customer service.
Life is good, no matter what happens. Today I'm grateful for constant learning and folks like Helene who care. She's an inspiration.