Identity theft is the fashion crime of the 21st century. Before you know it, someone will be stealing your identity and walking around in your Manolo Blahnik pumps.
You are in a particularly
dangerous position because there are people all over the North
American continent who want to be like you. I mean, why
How do you know
if your identity has been stolen?
Perhaps you come back
to your house and find someone else who looks just like you. She is
chopping things in your Cuisinart and French-kissing your husband.
Or you might start to
feel funny, as if you are coming down with a cold. You find yourself
doing things you've never done before, like giving money to the poor,
or picking up a
book and reading it. You may notice physical changes, such as a difference
in the way you walk.
Call your nearest government agency. See if it has the new gait analysis
software the U.S. government is investing in for profiling terrorists.
also ask the agents to check your irises and facial grooves.
For early detection, your
best bet is the Identity Theft Monitoring Kit from Sharper Edge. It
mounts to any wall and is powered by two C-cell batteries.
What happens when
your identity is stolen?
Often, the first sign
is unusual charges on your credit card bill, like trips to Mars. Most
people don't catch this, however, because they never look at their credit
card bills. They
just make the minimum payment and go their merry way.
If someone gets your driver's
license, they could drive your car. They could go to the ice cream shop
and order a double chocolate malted, which would absolutely
wreck your diet. They might eat bananas in your car and leave the peels
under the seat. They could change all the buttons on the radio and mess
with the cupholders.
An identity thief might
open a checking account in your name and write bad checks. Very bad
checks. Checks to environmental groups and orphanages. Checks
to pudding fests. We just can't let this sort of thing happen!
How can you prevent
The U.S. government provides a set of useful guidelines for guarding against identity theft. You can remember them from this simple acronym: BPGMOK.
It's sort of like saying big mop after a lengthy session
with your dentist. BPGMOK. It doesn't matter what the
letters stand for, just so long as you
Don't tell anyone
your birthday. Not just the year, but the
exact date as well. In fact, you should probably have several birthday
parties for yourself scattered
over the year. That way you will get more presents!
Cut down the number of
credit cards you carry with you to eight or ten.
What else can you do to
prevent identity theft? Don't take anything with you when you go anywhere.
Better yet, don't go anywhere. Stay home. Wear a wig. And
a mustache. And your housecleaner's clothes. Try speaking in a foreign
How do identity
thieves steal your identity?
It used to be that they
shoved you into a phone booth, snatched your identity, and sped away.
But there aren't that many phone booths anymore, what with everybody
talking on cells, so they've had to change their tactics.
Now they come to your
house, at night, mostly, when everyone is asleep. They go dumpster-diving
through your trash; they slip through broken windowpanes and
holes the squirrels have gnawed in the attic. They make off with your
Starbucks receipts, your tooth whitener, your knockoff designer fragrances,
collection of Cosmopolitans-anything they can use to counterfeit
If you've been
a victim of identity theft, what should you do?
You probably need to transmogrify
yourself into someone else. Try to pick someone with more money, a better
figure, and lots of clothes.
Better yet, what you need
is a secret identity. One that nobody knows, not even
you. You will also need a secret headquarters (maybe have a decorator
come in and redo
the laundry room), a cape and mask, a decoder ring, and a batpole.
Identity theft can be
very traumatic. But you have the power to turn it into a life-affirming
experience. Think of it as an opportunity to rediscover yourself. To
proclaim your identity
to the world. To purchase every monogrammed product you can lay your
What's it like,
getting your identity back?
It's painful. It has to
be sewn on, like Peter Pan's shadow, and believe me, he was being brave
when he clenched his teeth and didn't say it hurt.
© 2003 Elaine Langlois