When dealing with serious problems, get help

Life is very difficult for me now: As I’ve mentioned previously, I’ve become the victim of identity theft…

I made my bad mistake early on: thinking I could handle this myself. It was easy for me to figure out what had happened: I had had dinner with a good friend, in an unpretentious little restaurant we’d gone to together several times before, so it fairly quickly afterward became obvious where all this had occurred: It was my turn to pay; I handed a valid credit card to the waiter; and the rest, as the great “they” say, is history…

Afterward, I wasted too much time. The incident took place last October, but only the day before I’m writing this did I finally do what I should have done much sooner: I took the matter to the police. When I’ve finished writing these words and emailed them to the TJP, you can read them and be cautious yourself in your own future, without ever thinking you’ll be able to handle something so serious on your own. But now, the official investigation has been set into motion.

Sadly, much damage has already been done — to my finances, of course, but also to me, both mentally and physically. However, starting today, someone from the Dallas Police Department’s Financial Investigations Division will be standing with me.

I’ve learned a hard lesson: No one who has a serious problem — one for which there is professional help available to assist in solving — should be so futilely ego-driven as to think (s)he could handle it alone — especially not when that help is ready and waiting to take on the task of finding a solution. I let my own ego overevaluate my personal ability to solve this problem without professional help, which delayed the start of the real work that should have begun long before now. I should have known better!

So finally, although belatedly, I have set help in motion: My full story is now being handled by the Dallas Police Department of Financial Investigations as a forgery. Of course I should have put this problem into proper hands immediately, but I chose that same old, ego-driven pathway that most folks wrongly follow at least one time in a normal lifetime: “I can handle this myself!” Yes, that may actually be true at some times. But when and if not, professionals — and our police are most definitely that — will not laugh at you for seeking help; instead, they’ll step right in to get the right work started right away.

So here’s what I did, and I’m now passing my story on to you, to assure that no one reading this will ever hesitate to call for help instead of biting off the proverbial “more than you can chew,” as I so foolishly did: When you need real help, please recognize ASAP that what you’re dealing with is not a “do-it-yourself” project, but time for a reach-out; then there will be advice plus the right contact(s) you need to get the help you need immediately, made for you with easily available resources. A simple phone call to your local police department sets the ball of help rolling, and professionals take it from there!

In my files, there’s an old newspaper photo, preserved and protected in plastic: I’m six years old, smilingly receiving a packet of goodies from “Uncle Jim,” the policeman on his beat near our neighborhood elementary school. The caption proclaims that he’s “Santa in Blue,” handing out holiday candy, but it should say “The Policeman Is Your Friend”! He was mine then — and now, more than 80 years later — he still is!

Harriet Gross can be reached at

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