DEAR ABBY: While dining out these past couple of weeks, I have noticed something troubling. I have overheard several elderly people talking very loudly on their cell phones and giving out personal information.
I overheard one woman from across the restaurant tell someone on the other end where her checkbook and deposit slips were located and repeat her account number. She even revealed her account balance. (There was well over $11,000 in her checking account alone.) Abby, anyone could have followed that woman home and robbed her blind.
Please print this as a reminder to everyone -- but especially the elderly -- that conversations like this should be conducted in a private setting, away from prying ears. This has happened the last three times I have dined out, and I'm concerned for their safety. -- JAMIE IN SELLERSBURG, IND.
DEAR JAMIE: Thanks for the warning. Because we live in an era in which identity theft has become rampant, it's more important than ever to safeguard personal and financial information. What you have described should never be discussed in a public place where it can be overheard. The next time it happens, approach the talker and explain that you heard the conversation clearly -- and the next person who eavesdrops could take him or her to the cleaners.
Identity theft can take years to straighten out and recover from -- and there are far happier and more stress-free ways to spend one's final years.