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Woman warns shoppers to be vigilant protecting valuables while shopping

By Tosin Fakile

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    NASHVILLE, Tennessee (WSMV) — A Nashville woman is advising people to be extra vigilant while shopping after she said someone attempted to charge over $1,000 on several of her credit cards within minutes of stealing her wallet at a grocery store.

Vickie Haspel said it happened while buying groceries at the Publix grocery store on Charlotte Pike in west Nashville. She said she wasn’t aware her wallet had been stolen until she got a message from her bank.

She was at the Publix on Charlotte Pike while someone used her cards half a mile away.

“When I went to pay, usually right before I get to the head of the line and start unloading groceries, I get my credit card out, and my wallet was gone,” Haspel said. “I panicked and hoped that it had fallen out in my car, though I doubted that’s what happened, or it had fallen out at home.”

She soon realized her wallet had fallen into the wrong hands.

“I went to my car, and immediately my phone started binging from MasterCard saying someone was trying to spend $1,002.06 and did I approve this,” Haspel said. “I knew the answer to what had happened to my wallet. Someone had stolen it out of my purse.”

She said the bank alerted her to attempts to charge the same amount – $1,002,06 – on all three of her cards at the Target store about half a mile from where she was shopping. She said she had only been at Publix for about 30 minutes before the alerts started coming in about the charges.

“We had the Target number, store number, and so it was just right down the street from the Publix,” Haspel said. “It felt awful because all my identification, for the most part, was in that wallet. I had my driver’s license, my two health insurance cars, my prescription card. It goes through your mind like ‘What’s in my wallet?’ I had about $130 in cash.”

Haspel said she declined the charges and began to cancel her credit cards.

“Kudos to the credit card companies for sure because everything was declined,” Haspel said.

News4 reached out to the Better Business Bureau for tips to help people who deal with this kind of theft:

Sign up for transaction alerts. Card issuers will sometimes allow you to set alerts for transactions that exceed a specific amount. This can help when most con artists try to max out cards immediately with large purchases. This can help quickly identify potential fraud on your active cards.

Review your card statements monthly. Whether you get your statements online, in an app, or a hard copy, look carefully for unexpected purchases or cash advances. If you see any unfamiliar purchases, do your research and determine if it was you. Remember that some businesses have confusing names on their transactions because of their payment processor.

Contact the card issuer immediately to dispute the charges if it wasn’t a purchase you made. Keep credit cards you don’t use in a safe place at home instead of carrying them with you.

Haspel said she’s usually more alert when in the store but said it seems this time it wasn’t enough. Instead, she wants people to know that they should have their purses as close to them as possible.

“I’m very aware of not leaving my purse wide open for somebody to take something. But clearly that day, I wasn’t vigilant enough,” Haspel said. “My shoulder isn’t great, so I typically put my purse in the cart. It wasn’t a zipper purse, but it wasn’t wide open. It wasn’t gaping open.”

Haspel talked about what she did during the shopping trip.

“My cart was never far from me, so if you can have it on our person, on your body, do it, and, if it can be, zipped,” Haspel said. “I just want everyone to be aware because it’s a terrible, horrible feeling.”

She said four days later, a good Samaritan, a man who works for Aaron Asphalt, came to her house to return her wallet.

“Thank you so much. I appreciate it so much that my information isn’t just out there,” Haspel said. “He said his men were working behind the Publix and they found it in the ditch.”

Haspel said everything was in her wallet except her credit cards and cash.

Metro Police told News4 people should report this kind of theft, and police can take the report over the phone.

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