The true story of a girl and her identity

By Cecelia Francisco
September 18, 2003

Ryan Norris

Is your identity safe? You might want to take a good look at all of your assets before you answer this question-especially if you’re a Cabrini student.

I’m not here to point fingers just yet. In mid April 2003, I went home with my roommate for dinner. During our conversation, my parents informed me that someone was trying to steal my mother’s identity. It came to their attention when our usual pile of mail seemed smaller. Soon the mailman came to the door with a confirmation letter for a change of address, claiming he thought one of my parents’ ‘college-aged’ kids had moved out.

Their next plan of action was to contact the post master. After finding out that someone had put in a change of address for my mother’s name without so much as one form of identification, the post master told my parents it wasn’t necessary to get a police report, and that a postal inspector would be put on the case. My parents put their credit cards on hold. Our change of address was fixed and the normal mail flow returned. Along with it came three credit card denials.

After calling all the companies and being unable to obtain an address directly, one of the credit card companies confirmed that the application was filled out using not my mother’s Social Security Number, but instead it was filled out with mine. The reason for this mix up was that my mother and I have the same name. By now it was almost the end of May.

I then took action to begin straightening out my dilemma. We called the police and asked them to come out so I could file a police report. The officer asked me if I knew anyone who could have stolen my identity. I listed three known possibilities: a Cabrini student working in an office with access to my records; former Red Cross, employees who were reported to be selling identities of people who had given blood in November; and also the post office, due to the fact that the post master told us not to file a police report. The officer explained to me that filing a police report is important. Without a police report, in the future when I apply for anything requiring a credit check, I will have to show a copy of the report to show that the credit card denials were the cause of attempted identity theft.

Things came back to normal until the middle of June, when my mother’s beloved tabloid subscriptions stopped showing up. Upon calling the magazines, she found out that my address had again been changed. After straightening things out with them, on a whim my mother asked if the woman could give her the address that the magazines were being sent too. Astoundingly, even after credit card companies refused even with written letters petitioning for the address, the woman gave my mother the information. Currently, my case is sitting with a detective, waiting to be looked at.

What bothers me greatly, however, is not that this happened to me. In the beginning of May, upon finding out about the Red Cross identity thefts, I contacted Cabrini, explaining that I had given blood in November and had just found out through TV news outlets that I along with other students could be targeted. At no point did anyone tell me that there was a possibility that someone working/connected to the school could be the perpetrator. I later received a call from a representative from the Red Cross, informing me that my identity problems had nothing to do with their investigations.

In August a friend of mine went to school early and discovered that a mutual friend had also had their identity stolen. She told us that it wasn’t just her either. I later found out that a varying number of students are experiencing similar problems. Not only that, but my friend’s mail was going to the same address to which my mail had been going.

I also learned that lawsuits are being brought against the school regarding similar cases. What I would like to know, as I am outraged, is why were we not warned? Why didn’t I open my mail to find a letter from Charlie Schaffner, telling me about a serious crime being committed on this campus that could affect my life seriously in not only the current time but also my future?

Am I wrong in thinking that Public Safety is about protecting me, a student and resident of this school? Frankly, I feel let down and betrayed by the system which is supposed to keep watch over potential dangers to its pupils.

Posted to the web by Ryan Norris

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Cecelia Francisco

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