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Jewish World Review
Sept. 8, 2006
/ 15 Elul, 5766
No return policy on identity theft
A friend thought the commercial with a man talking with the voice of a woman, due to identity theft, was hilarious. And then she had her identity stolen.
I've never worried much about identity theft. Anybody tries to steal my identity and within 24 hours they'll be screaming to give it back.
Say somebody steals my driver's license. First reason they'll give it back: I'm short. Your average identify thief would have to walk on her knees to pass herself off as me. Walking on your knees in bank lobbies tends to attract attention, and thieves generally like to avoid that kind of thing.
The second reason a thief would reject my driver's license is the picture. Trust me, there's no way an ordinary woman can get a clump of hair to wave like that on the side of her head. It was a freak act of nature - an act that nature should not, cannot, and will not repeat.
Of course, identity thieves don't want your driver's license as much they want your credit card.
I'm safe there, too.
An identity thief steals my credit card and shops anywhere other than the grocery store or a gas station, and it will prompt one of those security calls from the card company.
"This is your credit card company and we were calling because there has been unusual activity on your credit card."
"Really, what kind of activity?"
"You used it. Twice in one day."
I'm not what you'd call a big spender. Last summer a credit card company representative called all excited because our card had been used to buy gasoline, hotel rooms, meals at restaurants and tickets at a marina.
"We were on vacation," I said. "People do that."
"We know people do that, we just didn't know you people did that."
Someone into identity theft isn't going to put up with that kind of sass. They'll just pitch the card and hit some other unsuspecting dupe.
The government has a Web site set up to educate people on how to protect themselves from identity theft. They urge people to deter, detect and defend. It's the new stop, drop and roll, for people who live on plastic.
The government also says you shouldn't put your first name on your checks, just your initials and last name. That way, if someone takes your checkbook, they won't know your full name or how you sign your checks.
As if anybody checks signatures anymore. Those credit card boxes with plastic pens have conditioned us all to scribble. If you see a signature that's legible these days, there's a good chance it's a fake.
It is also a good idea to avoid writing information in the memo line on checks, especially account numbers. People who process checks can use that information to get your identity.
I now use the memo line to write things like "guess" or "for me to know and you to find out." It seems a little antagonistic, especially when writing a check to the church, but you do what you have to do.
You can also call "opt out" (888-5OPTOUT) the credit card version of the "Do Not Call List" that lets you stop most of the pre-approved credit card junk mail.
I'm thinking about doing that, too, but that could mean there will be days when I don't get any mail.
I guess if I got real lonely, I could use the credit card twice in one day.
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JWR contributor Lori Borgman is the author of , most recently, "Pass the Faith, Please" (Click HERE to purchase. Sales help fund JWR.) and I Was a Better Mother Before I Had Kids To comment, please click here. To visit her website click here.
© 2006, Lori Borgman
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