cur-mud-geon: anyone who hates hypocrisy and pretense and has the temerity to say so; anyone with the habit of pointing out unpleasant facts in an engaging and humorous manner
Two different classroom experiences in the past two days have convinced me that I am too naive for my own good.
I've shared that I am involved in this year's class of the Germantown Citizen Police Academy. Our session on Wednesday evening concerned drugs, and I came away from that class shocked at what I had seen. I do not want to be alarmist, but we have a problem here in the Germantown area as do virtually all communities across Wisconsin. The class presented was a very shortened version of one that is delivered by Cpl. Dan Delmore to officers in our department as well as in departments requesting his services.
We saw graphic evidence of what people use, how they use it, and what the consequences of that use are for those people. There are, obviously, consequences for citizens, in general, since these habits have to be supported...and that results in crimes. I was very surprised at the things that are common in grocery stores and gas stations and other retail outlets that can and are being used in an abusive manner by students as well as adults. As I said, I was too naive for my own good.
I have raised my children long ago, and I am happy that this was the case. It was much less threatening then than it is today. If I were raising children today, I would, knowing what I now know, be very active in my supervision of their activities while trying to not be too controlling, of course. That is a difficult line to walk, and I'm sure it is fraught with hurt feelings and anger as our children make their ways into adulthood. But, it is something that needs be monitored. It is something that needs be discussed with the children so that there is an awareness.
The D.A.R.E program that Officer Ray Borden is involved with is a big step in the right direction. The School Officer program is a big step in the right direction. But those, in and of themselves, are insufficient. Us parents have to be involved, and that has to be happening on a 24/7/365 basis.
The second class experience was yesterday during a continuing education course that is required for me for a state license I hold. We listened to an Investigator and an Assistant District Attorney from the Waukesha DA's office discuss the issue of identity theft. They shed light on a murky area that I knew existed but about which I was ill-informed.
According to their information, over 700,000 people are affected by identity theft every year in the United States. The five common types of identity theft include:
Social Security Number
Character and/or Criminal
Identity theft is a felony in Wisconsin and is vigorously prosecuted whenever possible. We heard of people who have had second mortgages made on their own dwelling and who were unaware of that until they were hit with legal action because the bad guy was no longer paying the monthly amounts due. This case involved something beyond $20,000.
Others have been the subject of arrest warrants for things done by people using their identities. Others have seen their credit ratings destroyed by multiple credit card accounts that were opened and then never paid after large amounts were run up by the bad guys.
One of the things that hit me was the fact that there are people who do nothing but cruise neighborhoods every day filching mail from mailboxes looking for paper checks being mailed to the resident, or gathering all the 'pre-approved' credit card applications, or watching for the red flag to be raised indicating that there might be a bill payment sitting there with all the bank and checking account information.
Phishing scams are designed to gather private information to be used illegally. Those are most often tied to the Internet, but some can be done by telephone, too. Credit card numbers are available to employees in retail establishments or may be part of the junk tossed into a dumpster. Dumpster diving is often employed by identity thieves.
Some of their suggestions were:
never give your credit card to the waiter or waitress and instead take the bill to the cashier.
never use the mailbox outside your house to mail outbound items.
maintain a credit card with a minimal credit limit for use in Internet transactions.
check your credit card balances and transactions several times monthly over the Internet to catch irregular items as quickly as possible.
always cover or conceal items being left in your vehicle and lock the vehicle.
The one thing that hit me between the eyes was the fact that they see more identity theft being perpetrated by a relative of the victim than any other single cause. I wondered if some of those thefts were as the result of the relative having a drug habit needing to be supported?
As you can see, I was plainly too naive for my own good. I hope you aren't.