Although I have never had my identity stolen, I end up dealing with the residue of our society's heightened security preoccupations as my credit card purchases are regularly denied.


The Stanton Peele Addiction Website, October 19, 2010. This blog post also appeared on Stanton's Addiction in Society blog at

My Identity Has Never Been Stolen - What's Wrong with Me?

Dear Abby,

I feel left out.

I watch all those ads about using caution in puchasing on-line, and TV news magazine segments about people's lives that have been ruined because someone stole their identity and embarked on shopping-crime-phone sex sprees. And it's never happened to me!

I'd worry that it's because I have bad breath or body odor but - from what I understand - those things don't affect liability for identity theft. It's just that being ignored this way makes me feel insecure about my place in the Universe.

Now, my life has been affected by the whole Internet security thing. Any number of times my credit card company (CCC) has refused to pay for genuine purchases I've made (or that were made on my behalf). I don't know first-hand about the duress of rescuing your identity from people who steal it, but I do know the grinding inconvenience of being abroad or somewhere other than New York or New Jersey and being told my credit card is not being honored - apparently because someone (me) just purchased something using the card in Italy or New Mexico!

And then there's using my youngest daughter as my shopping concierge. Every holiday season, when she orders presents on my behalf, I feel - "Thank God - another shopping season done," only to have the purchases undone when my CCC rejects the charges. (Lately, since I have two grandchildren, they must feel that some young mother has pilfered my card and is buying a lot of cute toys and kiddie clothes - you know those criminal gangs of mothers of newborns and toddlers!)

But, wait, Abby - that's not the worst of it! When I call the CCC to rectify the situation (and that is just the beginning of the process - I then have to call in to make amends to the merchants and providers I have stiffed), they ask me a series of escalating "identity" questions.

And - get this - the questions they asked me just now (the holiday season is upon us) about my life were multiple choice - like I needed tips to figure out who I am! (Okay, I have created a file of security questions and my answers - hey, don't call me "senile"!)

Abby, can you help me? (Disclosure - I am also sending these questions to my financial adviser, Suze Orman.)


perplexed and feeling abandoned

P.S. And another thing I'd like to clarify - my apartment has never been broken into or my car stolen, even though I leave my doors unlocked and my keys in the car! What's the matter - my stuff isn't good enough for thieves?!