Monday, November 26, 2012

A little identity theft

Something I learned today: when Beve calls to say he'd gotten a message to call our credit union IMMEDIATELY, it isn't good news. A few minutes later I got a text from him with these exact words: "It appears someone has been making transactions on our account." Ten thousand dollars of electronic checks were written and posted to our account. And...let me just say, we don't have an extra 10,000$ sitting around in that account, especially not this close to the end of the month. Of course, things began to bounce, including an important payment scheduled to come out today. Moments later the credit union called me, and I spent the next hour going over our transactions, verifying that I hadn't, in fact, changed our address, password, etc. Then we closed that account and opened another one all over the phone. And all the while I was feeling the hair standing up on the back of my neck. 

Beve and I are probably easy targets, in some ways, though I shouldn't admit this. We don't have triple locks on things, either physically or electronically. We don't have a whole lot of excess in our lives--not in our bank accounts, not in our life-style--so we never consider ourselves targets. But this isn't the first time we've had such problems. Years ago, when we were trying to get financing to buy a house, we were told our credit rating was poor, because of one particular phone company we owed many months' bills.We were flabbergasted. Then we discovered that the phone company was in southern California, where we've never lived. Someone used Beve's social security number and name to apply for the phone service. In order to fix our credit rating, we had to send many kinds of verification proving we'd lived in Washington the whole time.  It was arduous.

But that was personal. We knew almost instantly that the person behind that identity theft was my now-deceased younger brother, Andrew. It was the first time we'd been his victims but not the first time he'd done such a thing (and he didn't hide his tracks well--ask BB!).

This, on the other hand, is completely different. Much harder to trace, the bank said, because of the use of electronic banking. 

But once I finally got off the phone, my shoulders began to relax. This is part of the fallen-ness of this planet. People steal. Money, yes, but identity as well. And that is a scary thought because we trust in our identity. We trust that only the real us have access to what is rightfully ours. 

And yet.
Even as I wrote that last paragraph I began to smile. To see beyond the superficial to a deeper truth. First, 'we trust in our identity': This is true. For better and for worse. That is, we trust in who we know ourselves to be, what our names are, what we've accomplished, etc. and stand on them as the sure foundation, even as we say we trust Him. At least I do.
That's one 'and yet.'
Second, 'we trust that only the real us have access to what is rightfully ours.' This is true, also. I like knowing my money's safely in the bank. MY money, only for me (and Beve, of course). 

But what if it's taken away? What if our earthly identity is stolen from us, and our worldly goods taken from us? My true identity does not lie in my social security number (which I'd gladly give you right now, if I didn't think some would be shocked), or in my bank's routing and account number. Nor does yours. No, true identity doesn't have a whit to do with anything we can put our hands on. It was given. It's been given. It is given BY GOD. At birth, at the Cross, and as we are being saved (and yes, it's a process!) by Him.

 If we bank our treasures anywhere else...we'll go bankrupt. That's just the truth.
So, come at us, if you will, enemy. Try to steal our name, our numbers, whatever. Those are merely human inventions. What lasts, what will last, is who we are. And we are safe. I believe this. I TRUST in my God to protect us. Amen.


Pamela M. Steiner said...

Wow!!! You are so right in your final statements on this subject. I've often laughed at the thought of some poor sucker stealing our identity...boy would they be sorry! I mean, really, if you are going to steal someone's identity, find someone who something to steal! Don't pick on the poor retired preacher who doesn't have a pension to fall back on or any kind of savings account (except what he can hide away in his "kitty", which meows for hunger most of the time)...I mean, pick on someone who has a good credit history to steal...not someone who has suffered severe blows to that image already. I'm so sorry for your experience and the impact it has had on your lives and home and bank account. May God convict this thief of his crime and may he confess and repent and maybe even become saved...That's not impossible. Then he will have riches in heaven also that cannot be stolen away. Praying for you ALL>

jeskmom said...

Exactly! We're the least likely of targets, too, with our single-income, teacher's salary that doesn't quite stretch as far as the month. But...He's always been faithful. Even when we're biting our fingernails and trying to figure it all out.
Thanks for your point of humbles me.