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I'm sitting here with a letter from "My Voice" - this is a local community centre that supports victims of crime. It reads "Dear Audrey, Action Fraud has notified us that you have recently been a victim of fraud..." It's a great group - feeling that you have been duped is indeed as they say, incredibly distressing...so imagine how it feels for someone who runs a session on self-presentation based on the "art" of the con, who lectures regularly about the importance of being actively aware in life, AND who even just read the book "Scam Me If You Can" by Frank Abagnale (portrayed by the still attractive Leonardo Di Caprio in "Catch Me If You Can" with Tom Hanks.) I kid you not...just read the book!
That Sunday night I got a call from a number that was a recognised HSBC number (which my phone listed as "Fraud Team HSBC" and a man told me a purchase for £855 had been made to Amazon and did I make it? Of course not (as close as it was to Christmas and as much as I love Amazon...I don't really love anyone else that much!)
He went on - I just need you to confirm some details, your address is (he had my correct address) and your mother's maiden name is... This was the convincer for me, I didn't think after that as he had that correct.
However, maybe it was because I'd read the book, maybe it was because I practice what I preach with a bit of conscious concentration for self-awareness when he asked me for my passcode I said I couldn't remember it.
Ha - maybe - it was just lucky that I'd simply forgotten it!
At that point his tone changed, and at that point I genuinely did notice. He insisted I needed it or he couldn't stop the payment. Then irritaing Audrey kicked in and I asked why? I told him any time the Fraud Team have called it's to let me know they are stopping the payment and they don't need any numbers. I asked if there was anything else I could do, he said "You can go to your bank and present your ID", I said I'd do that, and he again insisted "I can't stop the payment." adding you can check I'm legitimate if you check the number. I said "It's ok I'll go to the bank" and asked him for his name. He said "James." I said "James what?" and he said "I'm not allow to give my second name." To which my brain finally came back and I said "OK, as you won't give me your full name and you expect to give me all your details I will go to the bank and I will be reporting this to the police."
Yes...it took me that long to realise...and I'd read the book!
It's ok to have an off day - just don't turn it into an off lifetime!
I like to think of myself as relatively smart and savvy, I get out enough to know what's what, and my friends reassure me "It's because criminals are so sophisticated now" (I later "Googled it" and found that the HSBC number had been cloned.)...but I still felt incredibly stupid.
...and it seems I'm not the only one to do things like that, which seem to stick...
It's called "the landing effect" - when you're in the moment (like a date, or an interview - or the bus - my second poster!) - and you come out of it and go "Oh no, I should have said..." But hey (sh...)it happens.
Where personal growth comes in is what you do about it. You can either wallow in it and keep beating yourself with it ad infinatum, or you can say:
- Why did it happen?
- What can I do to prevent it next time?
...and be even more aware about that in future. See it as a been there, done that, got the learning.
It's OK to slip up - just don't keep banging (your own head) with it. There is nothing more growth stunting than being mean to yourself, and what's even worse is that you then don't even feel the need to make a chnge because with all this beating, haven't you been punished enough!?
Guess what - beating,criticising, guilt - that's actually the EASY part. Doing something about it means real change, and that's hard...but it's the first step to growth. For tips to change a slip into a habit, read my points below.
So I'm giving you permission to be crap...just once or twice! So stop guilt tripping and start changing!
So what can I do?:
- Get a journal. Why? Because anything that you probably ought to come back to later will otherwise play on your mind. If you can write it down in a journal, you can stop wasting energy on trying to remember it (which tends to exaggerate it too!), and if you come back to it at a time you're ready...rather than at a time someone else forces you to look at it again, you've kept your power.
- To make it a slip rather than part of your character, make time to reflect on why something might have happened. If it was unavoidable and there is nothing you could have done, then let it go. If there was some way in which you could have affected the outcome it's worth taking...not for the purposes of blame and more beating, but because responsibility means you can affect something, being able to affect something is power! Take power! (And no amount of feeling guilty quite matches how you feel when a "slip" has become seen as a habit and people say "Oh, that's so and so, s/he's just like that."...when you don't want to be.
- and when it comes to fraud. Report it and deal with it right away, and a very quick tip in 2020...write the full date, it's easy for people to add a 2021 or a 2019 if you just write '20!!