Life as a single Mother-Empty nest, Dating, Ex-husband, Best Friends, Full-time Employment, Unemployment, night school...How do these all relate to one another? Come with me:

Saturday, September 12, 2009

I don't need to worry about identity theft because no one wants to be me.- Jay London

Want to know something really scary?! Really sad?
I used to say that very thing, jokingly of course often. I have been on quite a roller coaster during my 12 years as a full-time single mother. Finance's can be a real challenge. My credit is not the best score. It is not because I have many credit cards run to the maximum limit. It is not because I buy myself nor my kids everything that we desire and have run our debt to absurd proportions.

It is simply that it is really expensive to raise three kids, keep up a house and property and transportation in good working order. All of this on a single salary, woman's salary.
I do not live beyond my means. We take road trips instead of vacations, we buy less expensive clothes and more often, we live in an old house with many repairs. I drive an eight year old car, with over 168,000 miles on it. A majority of those things end up costing me more money in the long run.
I do my best to save money making my own repairs. I cut expenses everyday. I say no to my kids often, for the very reason that I just plain cant afford it.
I do not own any credit cards. When you are broke, credit can really get you into trouble. I learned that the hard way. When some big unexpected expense comes up, I usually have to borrow from Peter to pay Paul.
In my case this means I put off a bill or two and we go without for a while. Eat what we have in the house rather than run to the store, drive less to use less gas, things like that.
And so I used to joke-

If a thief wanted to break into a house, mine would be the last one they would choose. I have nothing of value compared to my neighbors.
If a thief was to steal my car, god help him if he chose my run down piece of crap of all the other cars in the lot.
If a thief wants to take my purse, wont do him much good as I don't have any money anyway.

I don't say any of those things anymore.
Not since this past Tuesday afternoon:
Here is how my day played out-
I went to work as usual a little concerned about how to pay for a pending and rather expensive repair for my main vehicle. (I only have one car but while my son is away in Iraq my daughters and I have his as an alternate). During my lunch break I took a short drive in order to get clear my head. I stopped for some stomach medicine at a drug store, then grabbed a quick bite of food to take back to the office.
Just a short while down the road toward the office my car began to make a ticking noise in the engine. Feeling rather upset, and recalling my oil change just a little over a week prior, I pulled into a nearby parking lot and opened the hood. I had a quart of oil behind the seat and began to add it to the engine. The stick showed it to be low but not in a dangerous zone.
As I was pouring the oil in a man pulled up. Stated he was a mechanic and asked if I could use any help? I said I was not sure that he could help but he could look. He asked me to let him know when the oil cap was replaced fully so he may start it up and here the 'ticking sound'.
I did.
He started it up, jumped out to have a look, tapped a few areas, listened, then asked me to shut it off. He checked the oil level and said it needed a bit more and asked if that was the only quart I had?! I said yes.
He then walked to his car, removed a quart and added it to my engine. I started it once again, the ticking ensued.
He said he was sorry, told me a couple things it could be but I would need to get it to a mechanic in order to diagnose. Then he drove off and I dorve back to work.
When I returned to work I asked a few of my coworkers if they knew what might be causing it.similar diagnoses to the earlier help.
When I returned home after shift, a bit worried about the 30 mile drive. I pulled straight into my mechanics shop. He did a quick listen and analyzed what he thought to be a bad rod bearing which would require a full engine rebuild. And a cost of about $4000. As mentioned above $4000 is not something I have sitting in a savings account readily available.
I returned home and logged into my accounts in order to do some juggling of funds. Instantly I noticed charges I had not made. Charges within the past 3-4 hours. I went to my purse to get my debit card in order to report charges on my number that I had not authorized. NO wallet in my purse.
I had been robbed! I cannot describe the feeling of insecurity. I cannot describe the feeling of exposure, or the feeling of fear that goes through you when this happens. This guy was in my car!!! This guy made a fool of me. He was no more than a couple feet from me. Offering help.
I do not live in a high crime area. I have been living in a bit of denial that this kind of thing doesnt happen.
I had a bit of a breakdown. With the repairs my home has required, and the car, and a bit of stress over my sons safety added to my stress and work load at work, it was the last I could take. The straw as it were, that broke this camels back.
I could barely speak for the tears and sobs as I called to cancel my card. I called and made a police report witht he city where the crime took place. Then I called my parents and cried more.
The next morning early early I received a call from another cities dispatch. They had a man attempting to use my debit card and asked if I authorized the transaction? oh no(insert explative)! I hadnt. I explained how I had reported it stolen the night before. They recovered my card. But nothing else.
The worst part, the part in which I played my stupid card, I had copies of not only my social security card but also my girls. We had recently purchased passports for an upcoming cruise and I had inadvertently failed to remove them and file in our security file at home. I dont own any credit cards or this could have been so much worse.
I did however keep a copy of my sons debit card. In order to access his account if needed. I was afraid to cancel his card as he is at this time serving in Kuwait and on his way to Iraq. He needs access to his own funds and getting a new card to him after canceling would be such a hassle.
That, in a nutshell is what this has turned into! One big hassle.
I will be recieving a copy of the police report soon. I understand this Bastard had many victims.
I have filed with the credit beureus,  the Federal Trade Commission, the banks, the social security admin. Endless paperwork and fees. I have had to apply for a copy of my drivers lisence, new SS cards....and it goes on.
All I can say is this, you dont have to have credit or a lot of money in order to get ripped off. I was paid over labor day weekend and about three fourths of my bi-monthly paycheck was gone in less than four hours. Thanks to VISA I will be able to recover it all in about 2 weeks....

Be safe! Be cautious!  Trust not!
Sad that I have to say that now but it never really was a joke, was it?

Here are a few great resources, and something I may look into.


  1. So sorry to hear about your run of bad luck...what kind of world is it when you can't trust the kindness of a stranger...but then again not everyone is a baddie. Hope things start looking up for you :)

  2. Suki- thank you for the kind words. You are absolutely right! Not everyone is bad.
    I got all the money back thanks to VISA and now am working with the police in the investigation.
    All is well.


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