I like to call it electronic pickpocketing, but most call it identity theft. Either way, it is currently the No. 1 crime in America.
The joke goes: “It’s true what they say about identity theft being on the rise. I woke up this morning and didn’t know who I was.”
Seriously, there was a salesman making the rounds in the retirement community where I reside. He was allegedly selling some sort of cellular phone service. He knocked on my door and before he finished his spiel, I said, “not interested.” He left, cussing me loudly under his breath, as I pondered if I may had been a little short with him?
I peeked out the curtain as old people like to do and saw my female neighbor mesmerized, talking story with this slick, young, good-looking salesman in her yard.
After the salesman left I called that neighbor and inquired if she bought into his deal and if she had given him any debit or credit card numbers? She said she hadn’t. I was relieved she had not bought anything from this man because I received some really bad energies from him.
However, the salesman, before departing her place, asked her if he could take a photo of her driver’s license. She obliged and let him take a photo of her Hawaii state issued ID. I was besides myself, I was going postal on my neighbor, I was freaking out.
How can anyone let a total stranger come into their home and allow them to try and sell you something, then when you don’t buy anything, they ask for your ID to take a photo of it and you oblige them?
I was furious. After all, there are no-soliciting signs all over this 55-and-over retirement community. I was outraged this man was preying on seniors. You read about identity theft all the time but never believe it will happen to you, your neighbors or your loved ones.
I was hot. I called as many of my neighbors as I had phone numbers and gave them the heads up to beware of a man on the prowl.
Finally, after contemplating the situation, I called the police. I never call the police. I hate calling the police. However, in this case, I felt justified. I felt my neighbors and friends were being victimized by a con man. This man was taking advantage of vulnerable people who sometimes just need someone to talk to.
The police arrived and detained and questioned the salesman. The police agreed with me that there was something fishy going on. However, get this, the neighbor whose ID he photographed did not care to press any charges.
The police then told my neighbor she can not complain in two or three months from now if there are unwarranted charges on her bank statements for items she never ordered or a fake ID issued with her name.
The police agreed with me, my neighbor didn’t. I just wish the police would had found enough evidence to stop this man before he finds anyone else.
Identity theft is the fastest-growing crime in America. The number of identity theft incidents has reached 9.9 million a year, according to the Federal Trade commission.
Be vigilant and report any suspicious phone solicitations, emails asking for personal information, or door-to-door salespeople demanding identification. These are the modern day Bonnie and Clydes, they must be stopped!
• James “Kimo” Rosen is a retired professional photographer living in Kapa’a with his best friend Obama Da Dog, Rosen also blogs as a hobby; http://www.dakinetalk.blogspot.com/