IT’S AN EPIDEMIC, BRUCE,” Edna is saying on the phone. “These guys probably have your date of birth, Social Security number, address, maybe much more. It’s a total facsimile of you.”
A facsimile of me? What does that even mean? It means my passive-aggressive issues around security have caught up to me. It means my identity has been stolen.
I’m that guy who gets some prehistoric adrenaline kick when he leaves the house and car unlocked or reads his credit card number and security code aloud to anyone who asks—in a store, wherever. Bring on the risk! I treat hackers as if they were urban myths. To wit, as I’m talking to Edna, I’m on my laptop, where ALL Kelley log-ins and passwords—actually, one password, stubbornly stuck to for 20 years—exist in an open document on my desktop called “IDS.”
“If you reveal your secrets to the wind, you should not blame the wind for revealing them to the trees,” Kahlil Gibran said. But I’ve always blamed the wind, losing my temper whenever my bank or cable company tried to save me from myself. How dare you ask me to alert you when we travel or to add a “special character” to my one easy-to-remember, easy-to-hack password? My convenience is more important than your attempts to protect me!
That contempt sounds harmless in theory, but as Edna, our very reasonable tax preparer, explains, the bad guys have apparently made a mockery of my bad attitude. In fact, they’ve turned it into a fake W-2 in my name that has allowed them to successfully file tax returns and be due cash refunds in not one but two states. My only solace: I’m far from the only victim out there, as “How to Protect Your Identity Now” on page 54 reveals—15.4 million American consumers were victims of identity fraud in 2016.
I thank Edna for alerting the two states to the crimes, which as a result won’t cost us anything—anything except the stress of knowing they still had “me.”
When I put down the phone, I am newly mature. I go out to the driveway and lock my car door. Baby steps!