Knoxville (WVLT) -- In a split second, a thief can steal your purse, your wallet, or maybe even your identity.
A local woman found out the hard way this week.
Volunteer TV's Rob Pratt has more on what happened, and what you can do to avoid becoming the next victim.
This story has a happy ending, after some quick thinking by the victim and store employees.
Still, it's a powerful reminder that we all need to be very careful.
Diane McCammon can concentrate on work now. But just a few days ago, she was dealing with credit card companies and the police, trying to get back what thieves had taken from her,
McCammon says, "It was stupid on my part."
Stupid may be a harsh word, but McCammon was, at the very least, careless.
When she was shopping at Hobby Lobby in Maryville, she knelt down behind her cart.
That was all the time a thief need to take her wallet right out of her purse.
For an hour, she didn't even know it was gone.
McCammon says, "They were down there using my credit cards while I was still in Hobby Lobby."
The thieves went several mall stores, using at least four of McCammon's cards to rack up charges totaling over $4,000.
But the shopping spree ended later that night at J.C. Penney when two arrests were made.
McCammon had already called police and her credit card companies, after rushing home to get the list of her account numbers that she made years earlier."
Judy Smiddy with Equifax says, "The sooner you find out and report it, the better off you are."
Equifax is one of three credit reporting agencies.
Smiddy says quick action can help minimize the damage, "If you are a true victim if identity theft, you will need to file a police report with a local police agency. Once you give the police report to your creditors and prove that you are a victim, there are steps that they will take to get the information removed."
If you want to know more about those additional steps, there's a government website that explains what you should do if you are a victim.
Just click on the link below.