Wednesday, 13 October 2010

Imitation is not the sincerest form of flattery

It’s not me that has the identity crisis, you understand, I am perfectly aware of who I am. It’s other people who don’t seem to get it. The trouble started when a friend of my sister reliably informed her that she had befriended me on Facebook. Hmm, really? That must have been difficult seeing as I didn’t have a profile and I hate Facebook. Yes, I said it! And, no, I won’t be going to see the movie about its creation.

After some CSI type investigation, I found out that someone was posing as me on the website, albeit without any pictures and getting my date of birth wrong by several weeks. Clearly someone that knows me, but not actually me. Though I’m not entirely sure what this nameless moron was getting out of their endeavours, I still didn’t want them doing it, which forced me to become part of the hated ineffective waste of time that is ‘the F word’. 

In addition to my justified anger at the individual who has too much time on their hands, I do have to wonder how it was so easy for someone to create a profile impersonating me. To add insult to injury, I not only had to create an account to tell them that they had an imposter, but wait an age for them to do anything about it. To a certain extent I can understand when cretins do this sort of thing with celebrities. I don’t fall into that special category. So really what benefit do they get?

Not like the donkey that hacked into my eBay account in order to sell e-Gold – whatever the hell that is – and gained access to my credit card details. Oh, what fun to be told by eBay that I shouldn’t give out my password to anyone! Of course, I don’t give out my password to anyone; I know about phishing emails and the like yet somehow I’m still to blame. No wonder internet security firms are making massive profits.

I do have to be grateful that I got off lightly when compared to some horror stories about people who have had their identities’ stolen. I can’t imagine the nightmare of trying to prove that you are who you say you are all while battling some criminal waster for your own identity.   

Supposed advances have brought us Chip and Pin, which allows you to show your PIN number to a whole queue of people. Genius. Paranoia about people standing too close is no longer confined to concern about traditional pickpockets, no, they’ve gone high-tech.

How is it possible that barely a day passes without the arrival of some new mobile/gadget/thingimy-wotsit to waste money on, and yet, there seems to be no way to prevent fraudsters from taking other people’s money? There is something very wrong when criminals can outsmart those who design the apparently secure systems.

Even basic procedures that should be secure are far from it. I seem to get a new person delivering my post every few weeks and – shock horror – have had many instances of expected mail going missing. Maybe it's incompetence, maybe it's fraud, either way, I would love to know if all these people are vetted. An errant household bill may seem trivial, but it becomes much more significant when it is used as a proof of address to get credit. 

When criminals are able to steal the identities of dead children simply by requesting a copy of a birth certificate we are really making it too easy for them. Roll up, roll up! Come get your fake driving licence and passport! Get away with crimes, apply for a credit card, apply for benefit you’re not entitled to! We’ll give you the tools and won’t check a thing!     

Never mind Slim Shady, make sure no one else stands up when the question 'will the real [insert name here] please stand up' is applied to you. Read more by Shermaine.