This I Believe

Michael - Alburtis, Pennsylvania
Entered on September 27, 2006
Age Group: 30 - 50

Protect your good name:

My mom once said “if your name is all you have then make sure people think well of you.” I try to keep that in mind with everything I do. Your name is everything, the mention of a person’s name can bring thoughts of humor, respect, or terror. Your name can help determine where you go in life. I was raised by a mother who had a single mission in life, to raise two boys and give the best advice and care she could.

As I reached adulthood and my responsibilities increased I recalled my mothers words more easily. I paid my rent, utilities, and other bills quickly and on time. As the years continued, banks and merchants discovered my name meant responsibility and someone they could trust. I believed my name and the responsibility that I proved I could handle, would carry me in any walk of life. Friends and other family members asked me for advice. “Protect your name like a valuable painting worth millions of dollars, in the end people will remember what you did and how you lived your life.

I often heard about Identity theft through a segment on the news, as a rapidly growing problem with catastropic consequences for unsuspecting consumers. I, like most other people believed I was doing my part against an unseen evil force lurking behind you as you pay for your meal at a fine resturant or bookstore. I often laughed with so many others at the Citibank identity theft commercials, while checking my credit report, and credit statements. I believed I was safe and out of harms way.

August 19, 2006 started like any other day, I woke, ate breakfast, and handled my job description like a seasoned pro. I was in a relaxed and humorous state of mind as I entered my house. My attention quickly focused on a large box seated in the corner of my foyer. Confused I opened the box to find one thousand blank checks. I quickly realized the unseen evil force I had heard about on television had found me. My mood quickly changed from happiness to something best described in a Steven King novel. My worst fears were confirmed to the amount of $3231.85. My family could only smile and offer sympathetic support. I moved quickly to restore my good name, and all that I spend years developing as a credible risk. I was surprised at the lack of response or respect given me by law enforcement officials and credit card companies. I felt like I was being brushed under the carpet like dust or a bad secret. I believed I was going to be treated with kindness and respect. For the first time in my life I felt betrayed by the same company that I trusted with my personal information.

I now believe identity theft has a face, I look around more often now. I walk through my neighborhood with a suspicous gaze. I now believe people must fight to keep identity theft fresh in the minds of lawmakers. If you believe the value of your personal information is important, then do everything you can to protect your good name.