When you think of being branded, what comes to mind? Uncle Ben's cows maybe, with that odd number on their behind. Or maybe the prisoners of the Nazi era, with an ID number stamped on their arm. They were not human, not personal individuals, they were "numbers".
Well folks, its happening all over again in the US. These days, you aren't anyone without your SS#. Its your form of identification, even for things that are more social than they are secure. Why is it that everyone, from your landlord to your dentist, wants to know every detail of your life? Why is it that its so easy for someone to steal your identity, and then so hard to correct it?
Everytime we open a bank account, we file taxes, we go to a doctor's appointment, we fill out a job application, we sign a contract.. there are those very nine digits on paper for the world to see. After you fill out 3490 pages of medical history and your whole life story, some careless receptionist stacks it on a pile where you didn't even see Joe Schmo walk by and jot down your digits.
We always hear "Don't carry your SS card with you!", but there is no need to have it on hand for it to be stolen. And I speak from experience. Somehow, even with a mother who is paranoid about destroying and shredding any piece of information before throwing it away, someone nabbed my number, and used it to mortgage homes. After begging the SS offices to look into it, and writing dozens of letters, and making dozens of phone calls.. here I am on the same boat. Everytime I ask for a credit report, they point to me as the mysterious one. Yeah me, the teenage fraudulent mastermind that purchased a home at age 8.
Where are the laws protecting us? Why aren't they being enforced when broken? Why are people so careless? Last month, I accompanied my mom to the doctor's appointment, and the lovely registrar was shouting from a little cubicle to the crowd of patients, "What's your addresss?! Why ya here today? When's ya birthdate?! Okay thanks!"
I sat there and scoffed in utter disbelief. Really? Like we all need to know why Jane McDentures has an itch she can't scratch and that she lives on Old People Hill, Apt 231.... Besides being a disrespect to the person's privacy, in two shakes of a lamb's tail, I could have stalked her, figured out her social, dug through her trash and hit the jackpot.
Maybe one day, a light bulb will click upstairs, and the laws protecting our privacy will tighten up.Right after Tupac, Elvis, Michael Jackson and Biggie host next year's Halftime.