The Identity Problem

I’ve written about secrecy of social security numbers before, but once again, I’m frustrated to be dealing with a case of so-called identity theft.

Until we get some kind of Star Trek technology, my identity is the one thing that cannot be stolen. However, companies have been successful at transferring much of the risk of starting transactions to innocent third parties. Here’s the scenario:

Eve goes to CorpCom and claims to be me, Oscar. CorpCom does business with her, but then she winds up taking more money, goods or services than she was due. Now, CorpCom comes to me and expects me to pay. What? This is their problem. They were the chumps. But I’m guilty until proven innocent, and, of course, they won’t share any of the evidence with me, because that would violate my privacy I guess, or is it the scammer they are concerned with?

That last bit is the most absurd part. If A) they believe I really owe them money, share all the details of “my” account. If B) they don’t trust me to share details about “my” account, it must be because they believe I was not the person who opened the account, in which case I shouldn’t pay. Since they don’t share, I assume we are in case B, but they still write me letters to request payment.

Why do people go along with this racket? Because if these corporations claim you don’t make good on your debts, they tell credit reporting companies and you can’t get credit. Do they need evidence? Not really, just make it accurate enough to be profitable. If a few percent of people are wrongly given terrible credit scores, who cares?

Of course, with the turn of the credit markets and collapse of housing, who needs credit? Unfortunately, since credit reports are used to rent apartments, buy cars, and even get jobs, everyone needs to care about their credit reports.

I know what will solve the problem! Less government, let the market decide! Deregulate!

Summary: Someone opened a paypal account with my name, got a chargeback, and now paypal has asked NCO Financial to bug me about it. NCO says I need to contact paypal, and paypal says I need to contact NCO Financial. In the meanwhile, I’m wasting time trying to make sure my credit isn’t harmed.

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