Identity: Back to One


He lives in Newark, New Jersey. He has a T-Mobile account. Bank of America is his financial institution of choice. He pays his bills on time. His former employer claims he was reliable and known for his diligence.

I’d like to meet him. After all, he stole my identity.

Despite the popularity and presence of identity theft in our political discourse, I’ve learned this road is unpaved, uneven, and uncomfortably ignored. I’ve filed police reports, notified the federal trade commision, called the phone company, and dealt with employment repercussions about the impact of his name tied to my number. Hours have been dedicated to a resolution.

Here’s the thing: he’s a good thief. He hasn’t breached my finances. He isn’t wreaking havoc on my credit. My social security number is his lifeline. It gives him stability and grants him access to opportunity.

And this might sound strange, but I’d like to meet him. I’ve known about this man since 2010. I’ve been chasing him and desperately trying to get his name disassociated from mine for eight years. In that time I’ve come to imagine what happened in his life that caused his need to steal. My mind goes wild over envisioning the moment he got his fake social security card. My heart races at the recollection of hearing how he fled when his employer discovered his fraud. It’s been a bitter battle with little to no answers.

I’ve had all the emotions and then some about this experience, and yet I still can’t escape the exhausting obsession of wanting to meet this man. I’m pretty certain we won’t meet, so of course, I’d be happy to accept a guaranteed offer to make this all go away.

From what I’ve been told, this individual is an illegal immigrant. Given the climate and debate centered on immigration, I’ve heard a lot of opinions on the hypothetical implications that await the man who stole my social. My feelings on his fate are complicated. And while this might sound crazy, I’m equally angry at his former employers, who have admitted to not having proper hiring documentation, failing to pursue his crimes, and ignoring my pleas.

If identity theft has taught me anything, it’s that many people partake in the crime for failing to exercise due diligence or consistent vigilance. Yes, the man is at fault for his crime. However, his ability to operate is because of someone else’s negligence.

I feel fenced in. There’s a story here, a definite fika, but because it’s complicated most people ignore the effort to explore it further.

I’m moving forward in the name of patience and persistence. Technically, there’s two of me in the world right now. I’d like to get back to one.