Sunday, January 13, 2008

i.d. theft and not being thrifty

An interesting column here by Nancy Trejos about how she was - nearly - the victim of identity theft. Somebody tried to use her debit card and other detailed personal information but didn't actually have the card, and an alert and suspicious store clerk alerted the bank before making a charge.

Worth reading, with some good advice from a helpful Arlington County, Virginia cop about how to minimize your exposure to ID theft - "Don't carry too many credit cards, debit cards or other information with personal information in my wallet. Don't use the debit card so much. If you need to use a debit card, have one with a small amount of money in the account to minimize how much of cash can be stolen. Use a marker to write a note on the back of your card asking that the merchant request an identification card. And think about asking your bank for a new card number every couple of years."

But another part of the story woke the snark in me. The police asked her where she may have used her debit card - maybe at a grocery store? But Trejos writes, "As a single, working woman, I don't cook. The last time I had been to a supermarket, frankly, was to buy bags of ice for a party."

I guess that just doesn't compute to me. I've always cooked - at least basic stuff, if not always gourmet four-course meals. It's enjoyable, it's usually healthier.

And it's way the hell cheaper than eating out three meals a day! A point that I would think might be important to a "personal-finance writer." Personal finances aren't just about mutual funds, mortgages and IRAs. SPENDING is an important element in personal finances, since money you don't spend lightly becomes available for important things like food and shelter and medical care...

And although of course we all like to eat out at least occasionally, it's frankly lame to never eat a meal at home - which is how I interpret Trejos' statement, since if she doesn't visit a supermarket she presumably doesn't even have bread and cereal and milk in the house, let alone anything complex like pasta and a jar of spaghetti sauce.

Surely, Michelle Singletary would not approve with her emphasis on sane spending.



Anonymous Anonymous said... helps prevent identity theft, M. Hones.

12:32 PM  
Blogger Jeff said...

I, too, found the part about not going to the grocery store ridiculous. In fact, I found your blog by googling her name and "single don't cook." She works (and presumably lives) in Washington DC and eats out every day? That seems to be opposite any personal finance advice I've ever heard.

12:38 PM  

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