Notified that someone had used my Social Security number in an attempt to get a credit card, I telephoned one of the big three credit rating agencies.
“What is your Social Security number?” the woman on the other end of the telephone asked.
I am apparently a victim of identity theft and I’m sure you can understand why I am reluctant to give our that sort of information, I replied.
“I do, sir,” the woman said. “May I please have your Social Security number?”
I don’t think so.
“This is a credit rating agency, sir. We deal with this sort of thing all of the time. We need your Social Security number to put a fraud alert on your account.”
You may have worked at the credit rating agency for 20 years, or 20 days, I replied. But you might leave tomorrow and take my Social Security number with you.
“Sir, do you want us to help or not?”
Well, I certainly don’t want someone taking out credit cards in my name.
“Social Security number, please,” the woman said, in a voice that said there would be no more debating the subject. I gave in.
A minute later the woman told me someone had attempted to open four different credit card accounts in my name.
None of the credit card companies had apparently issued the cards, but it was suggested that I call each of them to make sure that was the case.
That seemed to make sense, so I called the first credit card company’s fraud department and the woman on the other end of the line said, “Social Security number?”
Why does everyone want my Social Security number when that number has already been stolen and as you can imagine I am pretty upset?
“Certainly, I understand. Social Security number, please?”
“If you want us to help, we need your Social Security number.”
I never give my Social Security number to anyone. I’ve read all the newspaper stories about that, heard all the law enforcement warnings, people aren’t supposed to give their Social Security numbers out over the phone.
“You called us. Do you want us to help you or not?”
So I gave out my Social Security number again.
On to the second credit card company where someone had applied for a card in my name.
“Social Security number?”
Why don’t I just post my Social Security number on the Internet? Take a photo of my card and put it on Facebook?”
“Well, sir, it’s out there already. People have it. So it really doesn’t matter.”
It should, I nearly screamed. This is completely insane. I don’t know who you are or where you live and I’m guessing you won’t give me your Social Security number.
The woman suggested I call back when I decided I wanted the credit card company’s help. I did not.
Millions of people suffer from identity theft each year. Apparently, the first thing each of them must do is give their Social Security number to a stranger on the phone.