I drove downtown to meet my younger brother for a belated birthday breakfast, and just as I was maneuvering my car into a parking spot my phone rang. It was American Express asking me if I had made any recent purchases on my credit card. In my mind I sorted through my credit card accounts, noted I had too many, and realized this was the card I planned to cancel… in fact I had it on my desk— Oh, $h*t! I had that sinking feeling in my belly as I told the rep on the phone that I had not used the card. She said, “We didn’t think so— since someone tried to use it at a gas station, Tri-Met, Redbox and an ATM all within 15 minutes.” My card was canceled immediately.
I called Amy, my partner and COO, and asked her to immediately go to the office. She is a former police officer and private investigator, so I had the right woman for the job.
She gave me plenty of warning before I arrived at the office that 1) the place had been ransacked, 2) I was not to touch anything until the Police arrived and 3) everything was going to be okay.
I assessed the damage. Gratefully, the burglars were unable to break open my metal client file cabinet, though they tried. They stole what they could quickly grab, clearly focused on fast cash. They had an odd sense of humor, as they also stole random things like two sculptures I’d just received for my birthday, a spray bottle of white board cleaner, art supplies, and an umbrella stand. These people were not thinking, they were on an adrenaline rush (or worse) and their only goal was to get money in their hands.
Luckily, the one thing they didn’t have apparently, was plenty of time. They left the most expensive and important computer and hard drive. Gratitude does not express how relieved I am about that.
In the aftermath I discovered and experienced the following:
➤I have plenty of business insurance to cover my losses, and my agent has gone out of her way to help me file my claim. Relieved.
➤I have identity theft protection through my homeowners policy — who knew? It’s free and my insurance company has been incredibly helpful, calm, professional and kind.
➤The Portland Police not only showed up, but have followed through in multiple ways. They took the situation seriously by sending out their forensics team, worked with us to track down surveillance videos and restored my faith in law enforcement. Plenty of care and protection from Portland PD— truly a blessing.
➤Our systems were all password protected and encrypted. Check! File cabinets were locked. Check! Backups on all systems were in place and current. Check! We had just purchased and installed a TimeCapsule backup system and I am so glad I didn’t put it off for another day. That backup system saved years of irreplaceable data and files.
➤Financial reserves were in place so that I could bridge the gap between this incident and the reimbursement from the insurance company. This was especially important because all of my personal banking accounts were compromised, and had to be immediately cancelled. I had business savings to replace equipment, pay for repairs and get back to work. My banker gave me access to the cash and worked with me to get all new accounts functioning right away. Thank you Umpqua Bank!
➤I have plenty of solid and supportive relationships in my local business community— people came to give us hugs, chocolate, wine, advice. And our extended community on Facebook was deeply comforting.
Living with plenty is closely aligned with the work I do as a financial planner— though I didn’t fully understand this until recently.
Planning focuses on two things: achieving your dreams/goals, and having resilience when $h*t happens.
I am not one to dwell on the “what ifs” of life, yet I’ve been in this business long enough to know that people die suddenly, accidents happen, illnesses befall us, jobs end unexpectedly, and there are bad guys who break-in to homes and offices.
Life can be stressful and not within our control.
The question is: how do you make smart decisions to protect what you have (assets, identity, income, health) while on the journey to living the life you want? What is one thing you can do today to safeguard your life?
I’ve made a .pdf download with my top tips on this side of my recent experience. If you have safeguards you wouldn’t do without, I would love to hear about them in the comments below!
Feel free to share this post with anyone who could learn from my recent experience of being burgled.