Identity theft for fun, if not profit

Today I engaged in a bit of identity theft, and it worked out really well, much better than being honest would have.

My mom moved out of her house and into a nursing home, and I’ve been getting her various banking and other accounts either shut down or reconfigured with a new address. This seldom goes quickly or easily, even though I can show I have power of attorney for her. Part of the problem is the justifiable and appropriate reluctance of companies to accept what I tell them, part is the usual incompetence one finds in customer service representatives, and part is clearly the policy of some companies to drag their feet in closing accounts that have recurring payments. Mom’s satellite TV provider was especially bad in the latter two areas.

Today’s target was Mom’s landline, and I ran into two bits of luck: the customer service rep from AT&T was very efficient and the account was still in Dad’s name. Mom never got around to changing it in dozen years since he died.

Because the account had a male name attached to it, I could call in and use Dad’s name without raising suspicion. And I was ready for all questions. I had the latest bill in front of me to handle the account details, and I knew his Social Security number and mother’s maiden name for the expected security questions. They didn’t ask for Grandma’s maiden name, but they did ask for the last four digits of the SSN, which I was able to rattle off quickly because I have it stored in a Secure Note in 1Password.1

Apart from the time I spent on hold at the beginning, the call took no more than three minutes—far and away the shortest dealing I’ve had. Crime pays.


  1. This is the Mac-centric portion of the post. And it’s a lifehack, to boot. Depending on your age, keep the SSNs, drivers license numbers, bank and insurance account info, etc., for your spouse, kids, and/or parents in a 1Password Secure Note, and you’ll always have it available when you need it. And you will need it. ↩︎