fb pixel

Log In


Reset Password

Downtown

Stealing identities easier than keeping one

Andrew Scot Bolsinger —

(Pause ... wait for the applause to die down ... pause — ...)

As of this moment, I have no way of proving who I am. — Without a driver's license, I can't fly. If I can't fly, I can't leave — on my scheduled departure to Boston. If I don't leave, I will not be able — to use my ticket to the Red Sox's home opener against the Evil Empire.

My normal "why worry" approach to life is invaded by this — foreign, intrusive new partner. Anxiety.

Unfortunately, proving who I am is harder than it looks. — Certainly much harder than those who steal identities so quickly and easily.

It starts with me

First disclaimer: You have to be a complete ninny to lose — your identity.

Hi, I am Andrew Scot Bolsinger, a complete ninny.

This ninny's story started about 22 years ago when I first — applied for a real live job. I obtained my social security card and promptly — lost it. I never bothered to apply for another one. If I knew at the time — how important it was to keep that card around, I don't recall it. What — I do recall is that I don't think it would have mattered either way.

Every job I have taken, I was asked to provide a copy — of my Social Security card. An acceptable option has been my passport, — which I obtained at about the same time I got SS card. Somehow, I didn't — lose the passport. It's the only piece of legitimate identification I — have left.

But, the last time I used it was in 1984 to wrestle in — China against their Olympic team. The passport expired in 1986. Though — I am well-traveled in the United States, I haven't left the country since. — So while my passport faithfully documents my birthdate and identity, the — face smiling back looks more like my son than me.

My driver's license is another story. I had a perfectly — good one in Oregon. Still remember the number: 4624542. But then I moved — to Virginia and did the obedient thing and switched my license to my new — state. I still remember that one because they still used Social Security — numbers as driver's license numbers - a practice in the age of identity — theft I would suspect they don't do any longer.

Later, when I moved to Ashland, I wasn't quite so obedient. — As it was my last link to this wonderful era of my life spent in the Commonwealth — of Virginia, I had been reluctant to replace it with a more accurate, — Oregon version. Procrastination set in.

Finally, at the prompting of my daughter, we made an appointment — to take the test and get proper Oregon licenses. She had no problem, but — the DMV workers wouldn't let me take the test.

Welcome to the DMV

Apparently, a driver's license is not enough of an ID — to get another one. The lady at the counter asked for a social security — card (see above). I tried to show them my passport (long expired). I told — them I had an Oregon driver's license previously, but it had expired just — a few months before. Again, No dice.

I was frustrated, the DMV worker was annoyed. She handed — me a list of acceptable IDs (primary, secondary and supportive, each apparently — worth varying amounts of cache toward the goal of ultimate proof) and — I left.

Without my daughter's prompting, it quickly slipped my — mind - that is until I tried to use my Virginia driver's license recently — only to find it missing. No idea where it went, but it was gone.

Suddenly the stakes were considerably higher. I scoured — my home office in search of a renegade birth certificate after scouring — my car, wallet etc., for the missing license, all to no avail.

I grabbed the passport, a marriage license, several bills — with my name on them and an assortment of other things that would attest — to who I am. I returned to the DMV, full of anxiety but prepared to figure — something out.

Common sense would prevail right? The mountain of documentation — would be enough?

I pulled my little number out upon arrival: No. 40 it — read. The place looked a little full, so I knew some wait was ahead. I — glanced at the electronic sign on the wall and my heart sank:

"Now serving number 08," it said.

90 minutes

I settled in.

For the next 90 minutes one relatively grumpy (in fairness, — maybe stern is a better descriptor) DMV worker replaced a second one. — The entire time I was there only one person worked behind the counter, — watched by a full house of waiting people. It was like a bad one-person — play with no intermission.

Finally, I was called after a run through the 30s discovered — many had snuck out the back of this playhouse.

Explaining my plight, the worker said she would look to — see if my photo ID from my expired Oregon driver's license was on the — computer system.

"We started putting those on the computer in 1997," she — said.

You guessed it...

"The last time you had your licensed renewed was 1996," — she said.

Hmmn. I looked at her, seeking a solution. She looked — back at me, seeking a conclusion. Our divergent goals would continue to — prove to be a stumbling block.

"You have to show your birthday with your photo," she — tried to explain. I pointed out that my passport did both, while pointing — out my many other sundry forms of idea.

"Yes, but it's expired," she said. "Maybe the Social Security — office will accept your photo on your bankcard, but I can't speak for — them."

Then she did it. She shrugged.

It was the shrug that lit the fuse. The complete indifference — in the face of a seemingly insurmountable problem. The shrug said it all: — Don't ask me to think about this. Don't ask me to use common sense. Don't — ask me to find solutions. You need ID that you don't have. Tough luck.

Knowing my fuse was lit, I spoke very carefully, explaining — that I had waited 90 minutes and I at least wanted to leave with a plan — for what I could do for the next time. Her irritation was obvious as she — handed me the same sheet with all the levels of IDs that had been handed — to me before. This photocopied book out of some manual, written by some — bureaucrat somewhere in the aftermath of 9-11 was the Bible it seemed. — No interpretation allowed.

Maturity is a sign of knowing the basic rules of childhood. — I didn't have anything nice to say, so I didn't say anything at all. I — left, my identity completely erased for the time being.

In the age of stolen identities it seems it's easier to — prove you are someone else than prove you are yourself. What a strange — world of lists and regulations, lacking in humans being humans, we live — in. My best hope now is that a criminal is out there stealing my identity. — Unlike me, they seem to have no problem getting past the ladies at the — DMV.