Heather's Columns ....

Steal My Identity, Please!

There’s been a lot about Identity Theft in the news lately, and frankly, most of what I read is clearly prejudicial against the entire concept. Once again, The Media chooses to leap on the negative bandwagon and ignore potential positives of this issue.

Of course, there are downsides to having your identity stolen. Your credit rating will fall lower than your grandma’s bustline and your bank will freeze your accounts faster than you can say “Osama bin Laden.” Customer service representatives from companies you’ve never heard of will have your number on speed-dial, you’ll get traffic fines from cities you’ve never visited, and the Franchise Tax Board will send you nasty notes on a regular basis. You’ll have no access to cash, your car will be repossessed, and your house will enter foreclosure.

Granted, this is all very inconvenient.

But, if as a nation, we used “convenience” as our sole criteria, our beloved Internal Revenue System would never have progressed beyond 1913’s simple 1% income tax to become the totally incomprehensible and unaffordable tax that it is today. We would still be carrying toxic lip gloss onto airplanes and my mom would be able to understand her new prescription program. If we will only ignore its minor inconveniences and give identity theft a fair chance, I believe the industry could mature into a robust Identity Assumption System, wherein identity thieves would assume responsibility for one’s entire identity.

Oh, the glorious possibilities! For instance, if someone invaded my bank account, he/she could also be required to deal with my next door neighbor whose chickens get loose and tear up my planters. The guy who accesses my MasterCard would take over payments for that cruise I took last summer that I couldn’t afford. Shouldn’t he/she have to worry about the care and feeding of my 1997 minivan with 168,000 miles on it? And “bend over and relax” for my next colonoscopy?

In an equitable Identity Assumption System, anyone who is truly interested in stealing my identity should get the full deal, right? The car payments, the ex who won’t leave me alone, my rapidly advancing cellulite, the root canal I’ve got scheduled in two weeks. He/she should have to argue with my 82 year old mother about whether donations to the Paula Jones Defense Fund went toward freedom of speech or rhinoplasty. My identity thief should face my accountant to explain how those quarterly tax payments “simply slipped my mind.” He/she should inherit my golf handicap, my dust bunnies, my softening palate -- and the ugly snore that results from it. He/she will have to work-out three times a week and flip my mattress per manufacturer’s recommended schedule (not that I do either of those things, but I’ve thought about it).

Really, I’m open to having my identity stolen; it’s never been that great. I’m a suburban, middle class female with multiple self-esteem issues and a beagle who sheds profusely. I can analyze a complex financial statement in two seconds flat, but can’t remember whether I took my hormones this morning. My arms look like my grandma’s, yet I still fantasize that, one day, Johnny Depp just might leave Vanessa for me (they aren’t actually married, you know -- it could happen). I’m totally willing to offer my Social Security number to anyone who will figure out how to program my DVD player or re-set my fully-programmable thermostat (which currently considers 83 degrees to be temperate).

You want this identity? Take it.

Several months ago, I mentioned my newly sprouting gray to the guy who cuts my hair. He resurrected the topic at my last appointment:

“So, Heather, are you interested in a bit of color to cover up the. . .?”

“Oh, no, don’t worry about it, David. Someone has just stolen my identity. Let them deal with it.”