Stolen Identity and Next Steps

Well, it’s finally happened. Some enterprising twat has used my identity to do something naughty and it’s causing no small amount of consternation.

Like many in Washington, my information was used to file a false unemployment claim.  Some pseudo-human got hold of my social security number and my email, went to the ESD, and said they were me and that I was unemployed and “I can haz money now?”  I heard about this from my employer, who wanted to know if I really had filed for unemployment, while still employed.

  • Of course I couldn’t concentrate on anything after reading that email.
  • Of course I went and put a credit freeze with all three bureaus.
  • Of course I changed all my passwords.
  • Of course I filed this as a fraudulent claim with the ESD.

There’s a couple more things I didn’t realize I should do (that I have since done):

  • I have filed a police report (this can be done online!).
  • I’ve documented it with the FTC.

Going through all of this is a hassle of course, and on top of other things right now it’s quite unwelcome. Here’s the thing: I have resources, and time, and a really great employer who identified it and let me know it was happening, along with specific guidance on what to do next.  Given the size of this fraud (there’s thousands of fraudulent claims for state of WA right now) there are literally thousands of people dealing with this, and not all have time to deal with it or guidance to deal with it. So, if you or someone you know has discovered some sort of identity fraud, here’s some links and things to do:

  1. Put a credit freeze (free to do, and can be done online) on your credit with Equifax(yes, that Equifax), Experian, and TransUnion.
  2. File a fraudulent claim with the entity that was defrauded (in my case, it was the Washington state employment office– and it was filed online)
  3. File a police report (also online, non-emergency).
  4. Document it (online!) with the FTC.
  5. Call (or email, or go online) your banks and let them know, so they can guard on their end.
  6. Change all your passwords and/or your password algorithm.

Will this make you bulletproof to future fraud? No — shit can still happen. (Murphy’s Law is a law for a reason). No sense in making it easier for the assholes that do this.

Virtual

I am looking at a medal for the Tenacious Ten event for 2020, sitting in a plastic wrapper on my desk.  I did not participate in this event.

I was going to, and then the current pandemic shut it down.  It also shut down the Mercer Island Half (at which I was going to run just a 10k), and the Vancouver BC Half Marathon (the date for which was this weekend).

It’s interesting how the different events chose to address the situation.  They all pivoted/cancelled around the same time; the Tenacious Ten (at which I was going to run 10 miles, on April 11th) has sent me a medal and a shirt, and basically said “go run this virtually and send us pics!”  The Vancouver Half not only pivoted to virtual but offered to just send you your shirt if you couldn’t run and/or left it to you if you wanted your medal.  I’m still waiting to hear from Mercer Island — the one that would have been first, incidentally, back in March — as to what they are doing.

For someone who is very, very good at getting things done, I am not good at getting things done virtually.  I sign up for races as a forcing function, much as I work with a personal trainer as a forcing function.  Since my gym closed I have done one (1) round of push ups and that’s about it.  The thing that keeps me running and doing any kind of aerobic exercise, apart from the fear of gaining back the thirty-plus pounds I have lost, is my health tracker telling me that I have to do N minutes or Y activities. But it only cares if I do so much, and none of that adds up to a 10k (or 10mi or 1/2 marathon), and my longest running distance since the Great Stay Home Project has been about five miles.

Accountability for me is a mixed bag.  I put all sorts of accountability on myself for work — working from home has actually made me *more* productive, and current circumstances personally — I lost my mother to complications from vascular dementia about ten days ago — mean I am pouring myself into productivity; the house is very clean, the garden is very tidy, the backlog is very organized.  I risk irritating my coworkers with this enhanced level of checking boxes but I have asked them to be frank and let me know.  They are either cutting me slack (entirely possible) or, awash in their own productivity gains (and losses) they’re too busy to care.

I can’t seem to drive that same accountability into physical exercise; I leverage external drivers like fitness apps and “points” — I’m a sucker for points-for-points-sake — and events.  But “virtual events” do nothing for me — I need to know that some brisk, cold and possibly rainy morning I will find myself out somewhere in a series of shut-off streets, watching people stretch in ridiculous ways while a loudspeaker blares incongruently happy music while I ask myself why I do these things, and a chipper emcee counts down the corrals until it’s my turn to run through the start line and pound away at the pavement, occasionally taking time to walk it out or grab watered-down Gatorade in a small  flimsy paper cup.

Yet since receiving this medal (yesterday) that I did not earn, it bothers me.  It’s a reminder that there is a thing I signed up for and have not done, have not completed.  And maybe this irritation will drive the accountability I need to get going again. Not right now, though. It’s raining too hard.