A comprehensive guide to avoid these elusive criminals.
Identity theft is just about everywhere these days; if it hasn’t struck you, chances are that your neighbor’s sister or your evil twin brother’s (and by extension your) aunt has had her identity stolen. Though it may seem a hopeless crusade to attempt to fight back against these rising tides of evil, there are several easy and not-so-easy steps you can take to assure that you never fall victim to this plague upon society.
Who are the Identity Thieves?
You hear about identity theft in just about every media outlet; the full-page newspaper ads cautioning against the pervasive phenomenon, the weird commercials with burly black men who sound like stereotypical teenage girls, the cryptic message in your late grandfather’s will. You may even fancy yourself an expert on said phenomenon: most people seem to know what murder, terrorism, and blasphemy are; why shouldn’t they be able to avoid something considerably less serious that gets considerably more airplay? But the reality of the fact is that while so many of you can murder the murderer, terrorize the terrorist and take the name of the blasphemer in vain, there are very few of you out there who can truly identify the identity thief.
This is no fault of your own; our public education system fails to address truly pressing issues such as this and instead focuses on the more mundane and useless aspects of society: struggles of dead men (history), far-off and unimportant lands of non-believers (geography), and lunch.
Popular culture has beguiled us into thinking that identity thieves are mostly terrorists (an entirely different breed of criminal, incidentally), expatriates of former soviet republics, computer hackers, exiles of society trying to break into secure government agencies to prove their innocence, etc. Also there is the misguided notion that identity thievery is somehow hard and requires expertise, or at the very least, high-tech gadgetry. These notions are fallacious at best, financially ruinous (imagine if you shelled out big bucks for a high-tech IDStealer2000-Pro-Awesome, and found that you didn’t need it) or even spirit-crushing at worst (the majority of the tens, perhaps hundreds of young identity-thieves-in-the-making who watched Matthew Broderick in War Games were probably shattered emotionally).
The reality of the situation is that anyone can be an identity thief, and shockingly (or maybe not, because stealing someone’s identity is just too damn easy), one in every four people can truthfully call themselves this breed of dastardly devil. Look around the dinner table: is it mom? Dad? Little Sis? Big Bro? You? Keep in mind that in your five-member household, the identity thieves comprise one and one-fourth members of your family.
Okay, So I Know the Identity Thieves. But What is Identity Theft?
Identity theft is exactly what it sounds like: a situation where a criminal, or perhaps just a lowly peon/henchman in the employ of a mastermind criminal, assumes the identity of an unsuspecting honest worker. Often this has massive ramifications; for example, the first fifteen picks in the 1998 NBA Draft were actually assuming the identities of real college athletes, and were later found out to be backups for the Harlem Globetrotters. Generally, however, identity theft is small-scale, goes largely unnoticed, and nearly undetectable except by the most scrutinizing of eyes. In expert circles, this has earned it the nickname “The Microscopic Bumblebee,” for it is generally agreed that if such an animal existed it would have the three aforementioned qualities.
The first documented case of identity theft occurred in during the twelfth century AD, referred to by some scholars as “The Era of Many Antipopes.” An antipope was one who claimed himself to be the lawful pope in opposition to the existing pope. Most starkly opposed the existing pope, yet in the curious case of Innocent III, the antipope Lanzo of Sezza actually claimed to be Innocent III. This flimsy claim was quickly revealed to bear no merit when papyrus and computer records were analyzed, but nevertheless, Lanzo paved the way for millions of identity thieves after him. The proliferation became rampant and uncontrolled, reaching levels that are stark even by today’s standards.
Identity thievery continued to flourish throughout the course of the second millennium. Here are the more notable examples:
• In the fourteenth century, Europe mourns the loss of almost half of its population to the plague, while in reality one man who had assumed the lives of almost half of Europe’s population passed away.
• James Flanders, a young gay Frenchman during the end of the Hundred Years’ War, assumes the identity of Joan of Arc to catch the eye of a boy he fancies. Three days later he is burned at the stake.
• Seven separate lords and dukes of England claim to be Queen Elizabeth’s husband to gain extra bargaining power in settling territorial disputes before realizing that she is unmarried.
• The Founding Fathers (American, not Burundian) are actually killed several times, but each time look-alikes fill in to keep morale from sinking among the populace. (Technically this is not theft, but who’s counting?)
• In the 1960s, farm animals are inspired to emulate their human masters by George Orwell’s 1984. This leads to the mistaken nomination and subsequent election of Pigasus, a pig, as US President in 1968.
The Citibank Corporation tried to alert the public to the dangers of identity theft with a massive advertising campaign featuring burly black men with who sound like stereotypical teenage girls, but alas, the move backfired on them in an ironic twist. It was revealed recently that for fourteen months, Sioux Falls resident Molly Hayes, a seventeen-year-old girl, was found out by authorities to have been impersonating Citibank Vice President of Offshore operations Jamaal Owens. Mr. Owens, a former weightlifter, was inexplicably captured by the girl and held prisoner in her basement for just over a year before his muscles had atrophied to the point where he could wriggle through the crawlspace out to freedom.
I Don’t Want to be Conned!
There are several things that one can do to avoid being taken advantage of by an identity thief. A common approach is known as “the Kaczynski” for reasons unknown. “The Special K” (its more affectionate nickname) involves selling off all material possessions, and using the money acquired to build a shack in the Montana wilderness. You must use the remaining money (which will be substantial, for otherwise identity thieves would not be after you) to stockpile canned goods, and buy numerous pipe bombs. Mail the pipe bombs to friends, relatives, and anyone else you have ever come in contact with. The homeless man who found your cell phone and returned it to you some months ago, he attractive waitress at Denny’s, the receptionist at your dentist’s office, the mace-wielding woman who attacked you after you made a pass at her, and the entire cast of House that you met after winning a sweepstakes all must die, because they are all potential thieves.
Then you must wait until your electronic records decay through the natural course of time. (Most electronic records are stored in a radioactive waste site in the Yucca Mountains; hence they have a half-life of approximately forty-seven years). After biding your time, you will emerge not only as a new person, but you will emerge a person for whom there is a tacit understanding that their identity should neither be questioned nor stolen.
Another approach is “the Untouchable,” in which one creates portrays themselves as a dreg of society. To successfully pull this off, one must attire themselves in unwashed clothing, get a job butchering animals (the stench really helps), and move to North Dakota. Then the cashier at Good Vibrations will think twice about swiping your credit card number, and not just because the numbers are covered in grime and hard to make out.
Yet another approach is “the Schizophrenic,” in which one, in an ironic setup, portrays herself or himself as having a multiple-personality disorder. It is important that each of these personalities have their own distinct names, attributes, likes/dislikes, birthdates, credit cards, social security numbers, religions, genders, strange physical deformities, and spouses. It is also important that you are at any time able to create a new, completely different personality on the spot. When a thief takes your identity, in reality they will only be taking away one eighteenth of your identity. Additionally, anyone who assumes your identity will likely be arrested, since authorities will want to lock you up for polygamy.
The final and perhaps most effective approach is known as “the POTUS,” in which one campaigns for, is nominated for, and eventually wins the Presidency of the Free World and the United States of America (may God shed His divine grace on thee). It is also essential to have “a strong mandate,” in which your party, be it the Republicans, Democrats, Libertarians, Whigs, Tories, Dixiecrats, or National Socialists, controls at least three-fifths, preferably two-thirds, of both the Senate and the House of Commoners. With such a backing, you must use your power to influence the passage of a bill denying American citizens any civil liberties whatsoever and giving government agencies such as the NSA, CIA, and FBI unlimited authority to investigate anyone at anytime for anything…anywhere.
After your legislative triumph, find the man who dared impersonate you. It shouldn’t be too hard, unless he is among the hundreds of millions of Americans who will undoubtedly flee across the borders into Mexico and Canada in response to the early proceedings in the You Administration. Then build yourself a presidential library. You deserve it.