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Feeling Vulnerable

If you want to feel an adrenaline rush, wake up some morning to an e-mail from the Social Security Administration that is confirming a phone call meeting to discuss activating your retirement account, that you never scheduled.

I received two of those in the past two days and let me tell you how they get your heart pumping. Before I get into the specifics, let me take you back in time to October 17th and give you the back story.

Linda, her mom, and me, decided to get another Covid booster shot before winter so I scheduled us for the 17th at Walgreens to get the booster, and for Linda and her mom, a flu shot also. I get plenty of prescription drugs filled there and they have had all my insurance and Medicare information for years and there has never been an issue.

When I got there and checked us in the pharmacist was having some problems with our information, and by our I mean mine. She started asking me questions and finally said, "you know, your Medicare number does not match your name and address." That's weird I thought. Eventually she was able to find me in their system and we got our shots and came home.

Like many of you are going through right now it is time for us to sign up for next years coverage also. Because there are so many options we hired, at the beginning of our Medicare process, a third party person who has been wonderful about guiding us through this whole mess. She is in the process of going over options for us for 2023 so I asked her if she had any issues with my Medicare number while she was doing her research. She laughed and said no way and Walgreens must have an entry error on my account.

I felt better but decided to reach out to Medicare anyway to confirm. Two hours and three transfers later on the phone with Medicare it turns out they had indeed changed my number because they were seeing some unusual activity on my account. The nice lady there said I would be getting a letter in a week of so with my new number and a new card would be sent out within 4-5 weeks.

I asked if they were ever going to call to let me know or was it just going to be a surprise when I got the letter? She apologized about how busy they were and it must have slipped thru the cracks, blah, blah, blah. So that was about two weeks ago and I checked my accounts to make sure there was no weird stuff going on and everything looked normal.

Now back to the story.

Wednesday I get the first letter and because of the Medicare stuff I am a little concerned. I call Social Security and after a 45 minute hold I actually get a live human to talk to. He asks me all the security questions and I point out that if this is a scam I have just shared with him everything he would need to steal my identity. He laughed and said yeah, but would a scammer actually make someone wait so long on hold and have recorded messages with how to do things on the website, etc.

In any case he could not find any record in the system of a letter being sent to me and said it looked like it was something I should be concerned about. He would make a note on my account and he said to be vigilant with my credit information to see if any unusual activity was happening. So that made me feel better, not.

After a sleepless night I awakened yesterday to another e-mail from Social Security, this time stating there was a message for me on my Social Security page. I signed in and see the same letter from the day before but now with a phone number they were going to call and a name of the person they were calling, neither were mine. The address on the letter was for a Hackettstown, NJ location and now I was really freaking out.

A few years ago I took myself off social media, Twitter and Facebook, for a number of reasons, one of them was because I had someone try to use my credit card number and personal information that they apparently got from Facebook. About a month ago I went back on Facebook and now this is going on.

Anyway, yesterday morning I went to the local Social Security office and talked with a representative there. I explained the situation, showed him the letter, and he actually called the person listed on the letter. It seems that she was trying to get her husbands account set up because he had recently had some health issues and they decided to start collecting his money.

It turns out it was a simple clerical error on the part of Social Security who entered my number into her husbands account and that was why I was getting the letters. The local clerk cancelled the appointment, told the lady to re-call the local office in Pennsylvania to reschedule another time with the correct information.

Problem solved. I feel way better and I go home to update Linda and life goes on.

This morning I get an e-mail from Experian asking if I own a 2015 Ford truck. I do not. My instructions are, if it is not mine, to go to their website and check the personal information they have for me to confirm I am who I am.

Are you kidding me?!?!?!

I go to the site and it turns out that the truck is listed to an old address of ours that they are still showing as my current address. I update the information and problem solved. I hope. While it turns out that this was not a major problem, it still scares the crap out of you when you are in the middle of it.

I have a friend, who years ago, had someone get his credit card information, and he joked that his score improved by 100 points so he thought about letting them continue. Between identity theft, credit breaches from retailers, and hackers we are so much more vulnerable today than we used to be. You have to stay involved in your credit information, even if you only run your credit reports once a year, so that you can be sure nobody is going around pretending to be you.

For me, I'm going to hit the vodka fairly heavy this weekend.

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