No one can steal your identity. It isn’t possible.
Definitions of Identity
1- the distinct personality of an individual regarded as a persisting entity
2- the individual characteristics by which a thing or person is recognized or known
Definitions of Identity Theft
1- the co-option of another person’s personal information (e.g., name, Social Security number, credit card number, passport) without that person’s knowledge and the fraudulent use of such knowledge
2- Identity theft is a term used that is to refer to fraud that involves someone pretending to be someone else in order to steal money or get other benefits.
3- The deliberate assumption of another person’s identity, usually to gain access to that person’s finances or to frame a person for a crime
Is this making any sense yet?
Your identity is what makes you YOU. It’s what makes you special. It’s your distinct personality, not your credit report. It’s why your friends love you. It’s why your enemies hate you. It’s the tiny things you say and do that you won’t even realize until you hear your kids copying you. It’s everything amazing and wonderful about you… just you.
No one can take that away.
How silly is it that so much money and stress is spent over the grossly and dramatically mis-named crime of “Identity theft?”
It’s a result of our society that believes that “who you are” can be summed up by your assets.
This is a culture that tells you to NEVER reveal your social security number or your pin#, but it’s OK to put your child on a school bus with a driver you’ve never met.
When we lived in California, an undocumented farm worker gave my social security number to the boss. Apparently, Mrs Gutierrez (or Mr?) brought in round $1400 that I ended up being taxed for. I might have ended up having it waived… I don’t remember…but who cares? That’s not identity theft. That person was never really me and I’ve lost nothing of myself.
My mother in law had an experience where someone got a hold of her credit card information and purchased a surf board and other random items. But it wasn’t REALLY identity theft. They didn’t call us up asking for pictures of the Grandkids, they didn’t go out for ice cream at midnight, they didn’t start making jewelry or smacking gum bubbles or play MahJong on Tuesdays with the Red Hat Ladies. SHE LOST NOTHING.
SHE was not the “victim of identity theft” her bank was the victim because THEY paid for the surfboard. Or maybe it was their insurance company. Or maybe it’s all just bullshit. We all end up paying for it because eventually it ALL FALLS BACK on consumers.
Insurance rates go up, interest rates go up… corporations need to recoup the costs and consumers pay the price.
The only way to avoid it is to opt out. If it’s a big deal to you, opt out. Instead of throwing your money into the collective pot, opt out. Take care of your own. First. Always. But don’t believe – even for minute- that your financial records are your identity.
How do people not SEE that the “Identity theft” fallacy is that YOU ARE NOT YOUR CREDIT. The value of YOU extends far beyond your potential for securing a loan to spend outside your means. Your identity can not be stolen.
Our government, the banks, insurance companies and retailers work very hard to keep their files straight. They want your money, plus interest, fees, taxes and whatever else they put in the contract. The most effective way they’ve found to keep track of things is to have YOU do it for them. “Monitor your credit report, at your own expense and time, so we can be sure to loan you the maximum amount we can justify (so we can get our fees)”
Here’s where I start inventing John Lennon lyrics; “Imagine there’s no credit… and no debt counseling, too.” or how about “Imagine all the people… spending within their means…”
One thing that particularly gets my goat right now are the radio ads I’m hearing for “Holiday loans.”
If you haven’t heard these… basically, they’re selling you money to go Christmas Shopping with.
I’d like to sit down and talk to someone who has secured one of these loans and ask them “What the hell is wrong with you?” I’d listen intently to the answer before grabbing them by the shoulders and shaking them senseless while shouting “You’re a f—ing idiot.” OK- I may not actually use the F word, I tend to do that in writing, but not in conversation. Still, there are other expletives… And I probably wouldn’t shake them either. But I’ll talk smack… a lot. But I won’t yell it.
Let me disclose here that I am not religious. If I’ve ever mentioned going to Church, it should be known that I enjoy going to the UU Church for the purpose of stimulating conversation, and not because I believe any God has declared UU to be his or her preferred people. My belief is that God (as creator of the Universe), if (s)he exists, probably has no opinion on religion. So maybe I’m not qualified to discuss the religious aspects of Christmas. But I’m about to do so anyway.
And if you don’t listen to me, listen to Dave Ramsay because he agrees about this “holiday loan” business.
Isn’t it a bit sinful to get into debt in order to put on a false display of wealth and bravado in the form of gifts you can’t afford?
Didn’t the bible say that debt was a curse and children are a blessing?
Isn’t this supposed to be “The season of giving?”
I have to be honest. I’ve spent a small fortune on our Christmas this year. But I’m not in debt over it. I’ve probably spent more than is wise… I’ve probably exceeded good judgment. I’ve probably spent more than twice as much as I ever have before. And I know that in 2 months I may wish I hadn’t done so. But I won’t be making PAYMENTS on it, and I sure as hell won’t be paying INTEREST on it. My regret will come in the form of wanting to spend it again, on different things.
I wonder if some of the “holiday loan” phenomena is due to the cultural perpetuation of Santa Clause. Perhaps families who were in the habit of overspending before the “economy crash” simply don’t want to face their kids on Christmas without magical, unexplainable, extravagant gifts. Reality has changed for them, and they don’t want to admit it. Perhaps ‘scaling down” is too difficult for them. But it has to happen, eventually. Lies (like Santa and consumer credit) aren’t sustainable.
And what kind of culture supports a “holiday loan?” What adult.. with dignity… can walk in and ask for a holiday loan? At least with a home loan, you get a house. At least with an auto loan, you get a car. But with a holiday loan, you get… presents. To give away. That’s not generous.. to give beyond your means, that’s PRIDEFUL.
I’m all for a healthy level of pride regarding your own accomplishments. Like I said, I’m not religious. When we sit down to eat, we thank the person who cooked it, not the God that created the world that created the person that invented the oven or created the seeds that created the food that created the meal… I think pride can be a good thing and that when we kick ass, we should give ourselves credit for it. Especially if we worked out butts off to get the job done.
But if you’re down… and not feeling proud of what you have to give… it’s not the time to LIE and BORROW in order to keep up appearances. Appearances of what? We appeared to be badass business owners a few years ago, but a friend of mine knew better. We paid our staff before we paid ourselves and Christmas was looking skinny.
I went out to my car one snowy morning and discovered a few hefty sacks filled with presents. I sat there and cried… and cried… and cried. I was humbled, grateful, ashamed, grateful and so very very very happy to be able to surprise my kids a little better on Christmas morning.
The following year, we were struggling again and I opened my front door to find more wrapped presents.
I suspect it was the doings of the same generous friend both years. She’s never admitted it. Collectively, those gifts were the greatest thing I’ve ever received.
I was caught up in trying to give. It was painful. I didn’t have much to give, but I wanted to. What I realized was that in order for there to be givers, there must also be receivers. As an adult, empty (spare the desire to give more than I could), the presents filled me. Suddenly, I had something to give. And the fact that I didn’t know exactly who they were from really fueled the desire to spread gratitude everywhere.
Suddenly, everyone in my life was a suspect. Without much in the way of recourse, I just suddenly looked at everyone in my life a little differently. I wondered if my employees had pitched in… how would they know? I began to look at everyone in my life as if they’d given me an amazing gift. Suddenly, I had a debt to the entire world.
THAT is what Christmas giving is about. I could have borrowed money, I guess… to buy them presents. But I never would have felt such a deep and helpless gratitude. I struggle to explain the feeling, of being gifted that way. In the end, all I can do is continue to spread the generosity and gratitude.
Receiving is powerful. Giving is powerful. Offsetting the balance between givers and receivers by borrowing money and creating a debt is like putting a curse on yourself. It changes the dynamics of “giving.”
We find ways throughout the year, and during the holidays, to help in any little way that we can. That deep feeling of gratitude has inspired me to want to share it. I wish I could leave a bag of presents outside the door of every family in need. Instead, we send casseroles when people have babies. We bake cookies to share. We give from our garden. We knit hats and scarves for friends. We give what we can, when we can. But we’ll never BORROW money to give outside our means. And we’ll try our best to not be too proud (phony) to accept gifts.
Why isn’t “being a phony” something our culture frowns upon?
Maybe because people don’t know what it’s like to really “need.” So maybe the good feeling that comes from giving gifts is a bit distorted because the feeling of gratitude is just.not.there.
Maybe because we teach our kids to be phonies. Instead of open, honest, authentic communication with children, we teach them to “say thank you” by default before they’ve even had chance to experience natural, honest gratitude. Gratitude is more than just “saying thank-you” It’s about FEELING grateful. Deep down inside… crying in the snow… With no one to thank directly, just a mental list of people who “might have done this.”
Why is it Ok to give gifts that you’ll end up feeling bitter over. I wonder how many of these presents will outlast the terms of the loan. I bet all the loans are 11 months long, so people can get one next year, too. I bet people who get holiday loans will end up carrying that debt for years because they’ll be in the habit of overspending and just rolling it over into another loan every year.
I wonder if “holiday loans” will become as common as credit cards.
What do people do with all the crap?
I don’t know if you’re aware of this or not, but our government has a long-term plan for our nation to become the inventors and the primary consumers of EVERYTHING IN THE world. Our government’s vision of a healthy and sustainable future for the US involves enlisting the labor forces of third world countries for making more crap that we invent, and sell back to our fellow Americans.
It’s true- Check out the document Tough Choices or Tough Times by the New Commission on the Skills of the American Workforce, which inspired my article Reclaim Personal Freedom in the US by Ending Compulsory Schooling.
THIS is the document that most states are using to guide their school reform efforts. THIS is why your credit report matters. But it’s still not your identity. It’s a way for you to be cataloged, monitored, measured, assessed and manipulated. But it’s not WHO YOU ARE.
And you don’t need to play that game.
I don’t care what your income is, you can live on it. And you can have a Christmas on it. It may require the generosity of friends and family. And it might not be a huge, sparkling Christmas that puts the neighbors to shame. But that’s OK. It’s just Christmas. And even if it is huge and sparkling, it’s still not on your mind in June (unless your summer vacation is ruined because of those Christmas Loan payments)
So if “identity theft” is a big deal for you, just OPT OUT
Opt out of overspending
Opt out of stupid loans
Opt out of systems that index you (I dare you- And I’ll be so impressed if you succeed)
Opt out of holiday celebrations that only go skin deep
If you’re going to celebrate Christmas, it’s OK to give all you can give. but don’t do it at the expense of your future.
GIVE GIVE GIVE to your children, but do it all year long. Not just on holidays. Make generosity a way of life. We happened to get a nice fat unexpected check that made our Christmas a little brighter this year. If the check had come in June, I may have indulged my children’s fantasies then, instead. Again- our indulgence isn’t because of a holiday, it’s because I love them and want to see their dreams come true. I want them to know that the world is their Oyster. I want them to know that I am not the one standing in between them & their dreams. I want them to know that I am on their side, that I will use whatever resources I have to help them build the life they want.
Make generosity part of your identity.
My husband and I have played the “credit game.” We were never much into consumer debt. Very early in our marriage, we charged things like… a VCR, some clothes, some furniture… and it didn’t take much calculation to see that in the long run, it was a stupid thing to do. We filed bankruptcy and lost our house after we closed our business down in 2007 and the attorney was just amazed that we had no consumer debt. Truthfully, at that moment, I was wishing we had… I mean… who DOESN’T want a bunch of cool new stuff that they don’t have to pay for, right? All we had were 6 hungry kids, bad publicity for our business and a 15 year black mark on our credit report.
But it’s not WHO WE ARE.
We are… a million different things. We’re human. We have wonderful traits and terrible faults all rolled into one. We can’t be defined by a number. And neither can you. We can’t be identified on paper, and neither can you. Even a photo doesn’t tell the whole story.
No one can walk into your house and start BEING you. No one can steal your identity.
Fuck any organized system that attempts to equate your DATA with your IDENTITY. Your identity includes your thoughts, your unspoken dreams and potential, your nightmares, your memories, your preferences, your beliefs and things YOU don’t even know about yourself. Your data is just the measurable numbers surrounding your SHOPPING HABITS and INCOME. THAT is what matters to the banks. Not you. They don’t really care about your identity. They care about your credit report. They only convince you that it’s important so you’ll do their bidding and play their game.
When they say ”Protect your credit so you’re not a victim of identity theft,” what they’re really saying is “We want to be sure we can victimize you as much as possible in the form of fees, interest and other contractual obligations because we are banks and it’s our business to have all the money. ” and they can’t do that if someone else is using your identifying information for their OWN crime. Your information, if it’s safe and secure, can be used to SCREW YOU in favor of the banking industry. That’s all they want. So go protect your credit, at your expense, so the banking industry wins instead of the average street criminal. This is the USA and the thief with the most paperwork wins.
Just like academic test scores don’t reveal the true intellect or intelligence of any child, your credit score doesn’t reveal the true accountability or value of YOU.