Looking back on it now, you have to admit that this was bound to happen eventually. Someone has stolen your identity, using nefarious schemes and treachery, yes, but also greatly assisted by some of your shocking personal security habits, including:
- Your practice of tossing unopened mail into the garbage.
- Your soft spot for internet ads that congratulate you out loud when you open a webpage.
- Your ill-advised decision to name your dog after your Social Security
Also, it was probably a bad idea to use your credit card as a Facebook profile pic.
And now some maniac is running around racking up purchases on your credit and otherwise sullying your good name - or even your stupid, regrettable name, like Franz, or Gene. But is it possible there's a lighter side hidden in all of this? Is there a silver lining tucked away here, which can provide you solace, and something to laugh at as you rebuild your horrible, poorly-named life?
Obviously. Didn't you read the title of the article?
And that's because you will be spending the next six months of your life on it. Whether dealing with banks, collection agencies or erotic cake subscription services, you're going to get really good at dealing with customer service representatives over the next few weeks and months as you go over the list of things you allegedly bought.
What this would look like
You: -on hold for eighteen minutes, angry- Man am I ever angry.
CSR: Hello, how can I help you today?
You: Hello, Hi. I'd like to dispute some charges on my ... Adidas Store Credit Card.
CSR: All right sir, can I start by getting your Adidas Store Account Number?
You: No you may not. Because I don't have it. I have never applied for an Adidas Store Credit Card. Someone else had evidently applied for one in my name.
CSR: I see. All right, can I get your name then?
You: Sure. It's Zach Everyman.
CSR: Just one moment. Ok, it seems here that you've purchased eighteen pairs of cross trainers at our El Paso location.
You: No, you see that's the thing. I have not done that, nor have I even been in El Paso.
CSR: I see. Adidas products are exceptionally comfortable sir; is it possible that you've been wearing these shoes without knowing it?
"It happens more often than you'd expect."
You: Wow. Just ... wow. You are a real piece of work. No, I have not been accidentally wearing thirty-six Adidas shoes.
CSR: How did you know that you purchased thirty-six shoes sir?
You: I ... what? You just told me I purchased eighteen pairs.
CSR: But I never mentioned thirty six shoes sir, and looking at my screen here, it looks like you purchased exactly that number. I'm afraid we are going to have to turn down this dispute sir. Could you please provide me with your current address and a list of your three greatest fears so I can forward those to our collections department?
"Cave trolls, black socks and licorice. Got it."
If you're the sort that is vulnerable to identity theft, we must acknowledge the possibility that you simply aren't that good at running your life. Smart, professional people do not purchase mp3s from Russian web sites. A surprising corollary of this fact is that someone who is capable of stealing an identity is likely a lot more pulled together than their victim, and could potentially do a better job with this stolen identity than its rightful owner. It might seem unjust, but if the thief makes poor decisions less frequently than you, maybe you should let him have your identity for awhile? See if it's an upgrade.
Try not to get arrested. That might screw up the thief's student loan situation.
What this would look like
You: -opening mail- What's this? I ... I've been accepted to NYU!
Your wife: That's probably not for you. That might be for the identity thief.
You: Why would my identity thief do that?
Your wife: Well, he's clearly got a keen entrepreneurial mind. I suspect he's decided to try and make himself more marketable by obtaining a formal education in economics. Good for him, I say.
"He's learning how to day trade with your credit card right now."
You: -reading closely- Wait. How did you know he was accepted into their economics program?
Your wife: -sighing- He's got your email address dear. We've been IMing for a few weeks now. He's really quite sweet.
You: You're cheating on me with my identity thief?
Your wife: Honey! No, of course not. I am emotionally cheating on you, yes. But that's different. Like I said, Ivan's just this really remarkable guy. You'd like him, I think. He does all the same things you do. Just a bit better.
"He makes great espresso. And your credit card paid for the machine, so it's like you helped!"
Let's be clear here, getting your identity stolen isn't like having your financially unsustainable nightclub go up in suspiciously rapid flames. There's no claims adjustor who's going to write you a huge check after a series of tough questions. But as your identity is slowly restored by customer service reps to its previous state, who's to say that that previous state can't be a little bit cooler?
What this would look like
CSR: And this $739 charge for textbooks, is that yours too?
You: No sir, that was not me.
CSR: All right. And the $180 prix fixe for two at Le amoureux on the 28th. Was that you?
You: No, of course not. Wait. The 28th? As in last Saturday? Hang on a second. -long, incredulous stare at wife-
Your wife: Oh don't be a huge baby.
You: Un-f#@king-believable. -into the phone- Ok, hey, listen. Raj, right?
You: What's your whole situation? I'm picturing a call center in New Dehli. Aspirations of making it big on a quiz show one day. You guys all live in giant palaces over there right? Do you need a roommate?
"I can totally just set up in one of those towers."
CSR: Sir I ...
You: Because this whole thing I've got here ... I'm thinking of just walking, you know?
CSR: Sir, my name is short for Roger. I live in New Haven, Connecticut.
You: Oh. I see.
CSR: Also, I can't tell if your misguided impressions of India come from Aladdin or Slumdog Millionaire, but you might want to read a book or someth ...
You: I've got a car. I can drive you places.