Monday, March 28, 2016

Thoughts on Identity and Theft

We got a call from our credit card company on Thursday. Were these purchases made at a Walmart in Texas ours?

They were not.

Our credit card company canceled our card and is sending us new numbers, and obviously we won't be responsible for those charges, but it was a little unsettling.

Then I got an e-mail from Walmart. My order was ready for pick-up!

A 36" plasma TV. Ready to be picked up. In Midland, Texas.

Evidently this purchase went through, in spite of my credit card company shutting it down?

I got on Walmart's website and logged in to my account. Not only could I see the record of that purchase, but there was the name and phone number of someone who was coming to pick it up!

I did an online chat with their customer service people. I'd already changed my password on there, but they shut down my account completely (now, should I want to place an order at walmart online, I'll need to use a completely different e-mail address). The woman I talked to said they contacted the store in Midland to inform them of the issue.

I figured that the closed account was a mild inconvenience (I must have ordered something online at one time in order to create an account, but it's not something I do regularly so it's not really an issue).

I was feeling paranoid, though, the way you do when someone steals your freaking identity and buys a plasma TV, so I decided to go ahead and change all my online passwords, which is something I know you're supposed to do regularly, but it's SUCH a pain.

Ninety minutes later, I got an e-mail from Walmart. Thanks for picking up your order!

What the WHAT?

Now, this isn't really my problem, since I'm not getting charged for this plasma TV, but I still felt a kind of righteous indignation at this injustice. I TOLD THEM that this was a fraudulent order, and they STILL let a thief walk out of the store with a stolen TV.

I got back online with their customer service to let them know what had happened, but their website kept screwing up on me (I hadn't had this problem at all earlier, so I can only assume it was their website and not my connection). So I guess this issue just goes unresolved. (Though I plan to send them an e-mail today).

I remembered that I'd seen the name and phone number of someone in Texas who was going to pick up the order, but it wasn't in the e-mail. It had been online in my Walmart account, which no longer existed. So, that was it, I guess. Some A**hole has a new TV, and the rest of us absorb that cost (because I'm pretty sure Walmart is going to be just fine).


Speaking of identity, I came across this poster "About Me" that I created in eighth grade. An excellent use of construction paper and index cards, to be sure.

As I examined the details of what was evidently my eighth grade identity, I realized what a mystery my thirteen-year-old self has become.

This poster is puzzling for a number of reasons... Why did I include my blood type and SSN on an "about me" poster? (SSN redacted with a torn strip of paper for blog post). Why did I pretend the Pittsburgh Pirates were one of my top 10 favorite things? Why did I include "talking" as a hobby and a favorite thing? Why did I cut out letters from a magazine to make it look like a ransom letter?

One thing I do remember very vividly is posing for the Polaroid photo in our dining room. I felt confident that if I held our cat, Frances, that I would look so much cooler. #nailedit

Here are the details that you would have learned about me, had you been in my third-hour English class in eighth grade:

I live with my mom, dad, my 10-year-old brother, Brandon, my dog, Rufus, and my two cats, Frances and Posey. I moved to Nevada from Independence when I was six. I love to eat popcorn and I spend a lot of time talking and reading.

(The last sentence remains accurate, but I still find it odd that I included "talking" as a way to spend time.)

10 Favorite Things
* roller coaster rides
* mint chocolate chip ice cream
* shopping
* acting
* reading + eating popcorn
* writing
* animals
* sleeping late
* Pittsburgh Pirates
* talking

(I no longer enjoy roller coaster rides the way I used to. I still like mint chocolate chip ice cream and shopping. I haven't acted in a play since college, but I do miss it sometimes! I still enjoy reading and eating popcorn, though it's funny to me that I listed these together, as though the activities are inseparable. Obviously I still like writing, and animals (vague), and sleeping late. It's bizarre to me that I listed the Pittsburgh Pirates because I guess I decided to be a fan after my brother started liking them, but I think I was probably just trying to seem cool, which is even weirder, because it's not as though liking the Pittsburgh Pirates makes you cool, no offense to Brandon and Jo. And "talking" again! It's one of my ten favorite things.)

A Perfect Day in 1993
9:00 - get up and get ready
9:30 - eat a breakfast of frozen waffles (still delicious)
10:00 - fly to Scottsdale, AZ in a really fast plane (clever to cut the flight down to an hour!)
11:00 - go shopping at Fashion Squares mall in Scottsdale and shop till I drop! (cringe)
3:00 - go to a Pittsburgh Pirates game (this is a total lie)
5:30 - go to a show on Broadway (no comment on the AZ to NY travel time)
8:00 - ride a roller coaster (perhaps on Coney Island?)
8:30 - eat dinner in an Italian restaurant (this seems legit)
9:30 - go swimming
11:00 - relax, read a book
12:00 - sleep!

I am...
Books, Friends, Pets
I like reading and acting in plays.
Humor, Understanding, and Creativity 
are important to me.
I am Brooke.

(I think this was a specific fill-in-the-blank poem assignment we had to do. Or I was just feeling oddly inspired to write a haiku-esque poem.)

Vital Statistics
birthdate - July 28
height - 5'2"
weight - 95 pounds
hair - brown
eyes - blue

On my hand, which is so nicely detailed with creepy old lady knuckle lines and a ring. I've included my address AND my social security number, as well as my blood type. Just in case you need to check me into the hospital, I guess! Other random information: nickname - "Wook." And then words that seem to be a list of hobbies: acting, reading, writing, collecting hats and porcelain dolls.

(Collecting hats? I had one hat with a flower on it--inspired by Blossom, so I guess that counted.)


The eighth grade version of myself is pretty painfully dorky, especially when you consider that this was a carefully cultivated poster-persona. None of it is untrue, necessarily, but all of it was chosen to make me appear smart/funny/quirky/cool and, oof. Eighth grade.

On the other hand, I'm not sure all that much has actually changed. Blood type and SSN still the same! I still think taking a picture with a cat is cooler than taking a picture by yourself. Also: Humor, Understanding, and Creativity are important to me.


And I still can't believe those a**holes got away with that plasma TV!


  1. I am both incensed by and petrified of any kind of fraud. I do believe, though, that your credit card company, aware that it's fraud, is able to get the address from Walmart and file charges against the thief. And I guess another feeling I'm experiencing is anger -- at the thief, at Walmart, at people in general who think it's ok to purchase frivolous crap on someone else's dime (confession: my friend was a victim of credit card fraud and it was determined the person bought diapers, sanitary napkins, detergent, and soap. I was mad it happened to her, but much less so than yours and others I've heard about because of the types of things purchased. Am I a hypocrite?).

    1. Arnebya - that last part reminded me of a story I heard earlier this year on NPR. The editor of the Baltimore Sun was working on an article about the year's homicides and he recognized the name of one victim, because it was the guy who had stolen his car years before. I just remember this guy talking about how his take on the theft completely changed when the car was returned to him a few weeks later - with a baby seat installed and a pile of job applications sitting on the floorboard.

      It's funny thinking about this, because it reminds me of a similar thought process that I can recall going through when I was younger. I still have to consciously make myself back up and stop making judgements on things that I know very little about. But I can remember seeing homes that were honestly about to fall over, just really squalid conditions, but the owners had spent money on things that I might consider frivolous, particularly if I wasn't able to meet the basic needs of my family. Things like satellite dishes or expensive, tacky holiday decorations - stuff like that. So I've wondered too, at times, if I'm a hypocrite as well for making my own judgements on what people should or should not steal (or even buy).

      Sucks to have to change all your passwords, etc. It's a drag.

      On a brighter note - that poster is AWESOME.

  2. I love that you'd eat frozen waffles for your perfect day. You're forever my favorite person.

    Sorry about the fraud. Recently had that happen as well for FroYo! I suppose they thought there was a good chance it would go undetected?

  3. We've had our credit card numbers stolen several times. I never thought too much about it, except to be frustrated and angry at the thief, until my husband's employer (big university) was hacked and his personal information was part of what was stolen. And a few months later the same employer lost a copy of our tax return that they requested. After all that, we froze our credit.

    I tried to freeze our kids' credit too (since their social security numbers were on our missing tax return), but you can only do that proactively if you live in Maryland.