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Identification

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Since there are so many people walking around with masks on, it might be time to update your identifying documents. I sure had an adventure with this one. Not that a current ID will help at the recycling center when three people say “Hi” to you and you can’t recognize one of them. But a current ID helps for a lot of things.

For instance, I tried to sign up to get retirement payments this week. I could have done it a year ago, but I knew it would be tough, so I put it off.

Since we are limiting our contacts, I tried to do the application online. I did this about two weeks ago. The state retirement site told me clearly that I would need to call them to request my application, so I waited until regular business hours and called. It went as smooth as could be. She got my identifying numbers over the phone and said she would mail me the information I would need to apply. And she would email me the application forms, but don’t fill them out until I got her information. A week later, the envelope came.

The application for retirement said I would need both my wife’s and my birth certificates, notarized signatures and Social Security cards. My wife is very organized. She had all this up in a file in our desk. Except, that is, my social security card. I do not possess a card. I did at one time, but the flimsy cardboard thing melted in my wallet after some sweaty work and wading in the river. Why do you need a stinking pasteboard card that fades out? Heck, I could make a good-looking facsimile with a Sharpie. But my retirement application wants the card.

So, I think I could get a replacement card online. After all, I signed up for Medicare online. The first website that comes up when you Google “Social Security Card replacement” might look pretty official to you. It sure did to me. But I knew I was being scammed when they asked me if I wanted to pay with a credit card or PayPal. This was after I had given them all my identifying information.

Feeling my fingertips singed and my ego squashed for being an online dupe, I decided this technology stuff was beyond me. So, I called my local office. I’ll bet the nice lady on the phone was in Iowa, not Idaho. But she said she could get me a replacement card. I just needed to mail her my drivers’ license and passport. “Copies of them?” I asked.

“No, the originals.”

She’s asking a guy who just gave his address and phone number to an online Ukrainian scammer to send to her, through the US mail, two pieces of real ID? And I should trust both her and the US Postal Service? I stammered some hesitation.

“You could request one online sir.”

“I tried that but I got scammed.”

She chuckled. “Oh yes, there are a lot of those out there. Only trust SSA.gov.”

“Why don’t you guys take those sites down?”

She chuckled again, like “We could sir, but that wouldn’t make you any less a fool.”

But instead she said, “I’m sure the inspector general is looking into that.” She probably winked to her desk mate.

I thank her for her polite demeanor. She didn’t thank me for sharing my internet pratfalls, but did wish me a good rest of my day. It was lunchtime. I took a break.

I found the SSA.gov site and only got a little peanut butter on the keyboard. It turns out my computer remembered my password, and I only had to click a couple places to say I really was me. Then they said it would come in the mail in a couple weeks.

I called the state retirement lady to tell her of my delay. “Social Security card?” she asked. “Oh, you must have gotten the old forms.
 

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