Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Loser Like Me

No, I’m not singing along to the catchy tune popularized by the Glee cast. Instead, I am drowning in melancholy as I relived the sheer stupidity of my involvement in my own demise. That’s right. Me. Involved. My Demise.

For a law student coming from the best law school in the country, I never would have thought that I could be the victim of identity theft. To make things worse, I did not even think that I would be stupid enough to precipitate such a thing. But alas, even the best fall down sometimes.

It all started with a single phone call from a man identifying himself to come from a reputable telecommunications company. “Congratulations!” he said. “Your number has been selected from a long list of subscribers who have pre-qualified for application in our exclusive promotion valid only until the end of this month.”

From those words alone, I knew I should have been alerted. For one thing, I have never ever won a single contest in my life. I’m just unlucky that way. And for another, the deal sounded too good to be true.

I should have verified with the company whether the call indeed originated from their marketing department. I should have demanded further proof of the so-called promotion. But instead, I did what any gullible idiot would have done in my shoes. I did as I was told.

To avail of the promotion, I apparently needed to email him some highly sensitive documents. Bank statements bearing my address, account number and history of usage for the past two (2) months, as well as an identification card with my signature specimen were the minimum requirements. So I did. I emailed him the whole lot. To a yahoo email account no less. Not even a business email account of the telecommunications company.

Afterwards, I gave him a call. One ring. Two rings. Three rings. He dropped my call. Flabbergasted, I redialed. The same thing happened again … and again … and again…. until finally, the number could no longer be reached. It was only after several attempts that it finally sunk in. I’ve been had!

How stupid was I to divulge intimate details such as my bank account to a complete stranger? And to give him my government-issued identification card? What have I done?!? It was only then that sanity crept in, albeit belatedly.

I called up the telecommunications company to verify whether or not the caller was employed by them. Apparently, he wasn’t. I asked about the promo. Surprise, surprise … there was no such promo.

I never felt like such a loser in my life. At this ripe old age, I should have known better. I very well handed my identity with matching documentation to a possible fraudster on a silver platter! Realizing the magnitude of my stupidity, I immediately did what I could to prevent any further damage. I closed that bank account.

I never received a phone call from that mysterious caller again. Who knew what his evil plans were or why he even asked for those information. One thing I do know is that I opened myself to the possibility of becoming a victim of identity theft.

With the advent of technology, identity theft has become so much easier to commit. After all, getting ahold of a person’s identification details is as easy as checking out someone’s facebook account. It is all there for the world to see. The trick is being smart enough to prevent someone from taking unlawful advantage of it.

On July 2010, Senator Villar passed Bill No. 1885 penalizing identity theft. According to the bill, the crime covers "stolen personalities in the internet, chatrooms, text messaging system, and other advanced technology gadgets." While I laud Senator Villar’s attempt to put a stop to this heinous act, prevention is still better than the cure. If you do not want to become a victim, be smart enough to choose what information you feed the people you deal with, especially in the internet. Trust me, it’ll save you a lot of heartache and headache in the future.

Entry #5

Diane Cecilia Yu

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