My identity was stolen last week, and I’m so grateful.
When my bank notified me that someone had appropriated my Visa, I was horrified — because they wanted to prosecute the devil who did it.
“No!” I cried. “Wait!” I immediately realized that this might be my big chance. Could I let this guy keepmy identity? Take over the lease payments on my car? Answer my telemarketing calls? Put my kid through NYU? Could this be a way around buying my own Town of Ipswich surplus-garbage bags? There might even be a way to finesse this person into taking my workouts at the gym.
There was no issue about getting my money back. My bank offers “fraud protection.” (As it turns out, this phrase doesn’t mean what it actually says. They don’t protect fraud. They protect you fromfraud. It would be silly, I guess, to protect fraud. It’s illegal, after all, and presumably doesn’t deserve protection — at least not beyond “You have the right to remain silent” and all that.)
But I wasn’t really eager to get my money back; I was more interested in answers.
- Who was this person?
- What drove them to such a heinous crime?
- How much of my precious money did they spend?
- Did they get anything good?
I imagined somebody shady but glamorous: an international playboy, wearing an Armani suit, using my Chase bankcard to lease a Learjet for a flight to meet his Czech mistress at his villa in Rio. The kind of fellow Pierce Brosnan would have played in a movie, except it would be a hit.
As it turned out, my fantasy was only a fantasy. My credit card, bank investigators advised me, had been used to obtain $27 worth of dental work. I thought this must be a typo. At the very least, an identity thief would spend 27 HUNDREDdollars and get a full set of dentures. What can you get from a dentist for $27? Now I imagine investigators searching for a middle-aged part-time parking lot attendant with bad teeth. I feel sad for him: a guy lucky enough to score someone else’s identity, but unable to hightail it for Tahiti because he’s got too many cavities, and possibly gum disease.
I figure when they finally zero in on the perpetrator, my iPhone will buzz, and a bank detective will ask me if I want to press charges. Well, I’m not going to be too hasty to respond. Maybe this craven criminal would be open to negotiation? You can keep my identity if, for example, that means you’ll take my kitten in for its last two vaccinations. Or maybe clear the mountain of dead oak leaves piled up against my garage door. And then there’s the matter of that ongoing little disagreement with my neighbor about the rats in the compost heap; if you can sort that out, take my identity, andthe rats, and more power to ya.
Meanwhile, I’ll take on a brand-new identity. If you see a guy skipping lightheartedly down Central Street — a guy who appears to be utterly carefree, possibly even debt-free — a guy who waves back at you when you yell “Hey there, Chester Moschloskowicz!” — that’ll be me.
I think Chester Moschloskowicz will be one of those people who always pays cash.
Doug Brendel, alias Chester Moschloskowicz, lives on outer Linebrook Road, at least till his identity replacement moves in. Follow Chester by clicking “Follow” on this screen.