Identity Crisis

My friend tells a funny story of identity theft and Facebook hacking, and it goes something like this:

“My daughter was 6 years old, and she saw me playing Farmville on Facebook.  There was nothing she wanted more than her own Facebook Farm, and I let her start one using only my hand-selected friends as her neighbors.  She worked at her farm for months before we both lost interest in the game.  A few months later, she revisited her farm on a whim. She logged in, only to find her account was hacked by someone in Lagos, Nigeria for apparently nefarious purposes.

Of course, I immediately sent Facebook a message confirming that she was only a then-seven-year-old from the US who had been hacked.  Out of curiosity before I closed the account, I checked on her farm.  Whoever had hacked her had continued to play her farm, bringing it to a level 96.  The farm was full of every animal and crop available, every object that game coins could buy, had been expanded, and it was amazing.  As I deleted the account, I had conflicting thoughts of how impressive and amusing it was that the hacker had built up the farm, that it was unbelievable someone from another country was in contact with my online friends and claiming Farmville rewards,  how sad I was that I couldn’t just move the farm to a new account for my daughter, and how equally sad the hacker probably was to realize that all of his months of farming were gone forever. And yeah, they could no longer phish for emails or defraud people of their life’s savings, so there’s that too.” 

This leads me to my thought of the day: why can’t hackers use their hacking abilities for good, instead of evil?  Hack credit card databases and erase everyone’s balances.  Hack the credit bureaus and give everyone scores of 835.  Hack into a store’s loyalty programs and quadruple everyone’s points.  Hack into Facebook and decimate our opponents in Words with Friends.

After the financial fiasco that was the fall-out from my divorce, if anyone tried to hack my credit information to use for a loan, they would be laughed out of the bank. You want a loan based on this mess? The loan officer would call over his colleague to share the joke. She wants a loan based on this mess, Barbara! Can you believe that!? The would-be identity thief would be escorted out of the bank by armed guards, given a lollipop as a consolation prize, and told never to return.  Hell, when all was said and done, he would probably end up sending me a sympathy card and $20 before deleting my records from his database.

Don’t get me wrong, I feel for those who have had this happen.  It is a disaster to straighten out and can linger on your credit scorecard forever.  But imagine if the thief would send postcards and pictures of his purchases and adventures?  It would be like an adult version of “Flat Stanley” or a slightly less fun “Travelling Gnome” prank.

Personally, I would love to see what an identity thief could do for me.  By the time it’s all over, I would probably end up with a credit score of 850, a new house, a nice car, and a home-based business in fruit sales.  I’d be curious to see where he would travel; would he take my identity to the Bahamas for a month?  A long, lazy trek through Europe? Hey, at least one of us should have the vacation of my dreams.

Or, he could just build my farm in Farmville to a level 96 and let me take it from there.  I’m easy to please.

4 thoughts on “Identity Crisis

  1. To answer the question “Why don’t hackers hack credit card databases and erase everyone’s balances. Hack the credit bureaus and give everyone scores of 835. Hack into a store’s loyalty programs and quadruple everyone’s points…” the answer is maddeningly simple:
    They’d get caught in a white hot second and nothing would be changed.
    In fact, we don’t even know if hackers have tried this as we wouldn’t hear about it or even noticed it.
    We notice when things go horribly wrong and right (take for instance the fact I got a second pair of $200 headphones I didn’t order from the company I ordered a pair from – a lot cheaper mind you- back in December on eBay and I am deciding what to do – many will say tell the company, but to be perfectly honest, karma has taken a chunk of my ass already so much so I’m in smaller jeans so I don’t know) but to notice that for four glorious minutes you could have gotten a loan for ANYTHING…….
    There are different types of hackers, but the ones we know of the most are the bad ones who do bad things or things that lead to the bad things. There are hackers who are keeping us safe by making sure the bad hackers can’t get anything….even a good damn credit score!

  2. It’s simple – whose ox is being gored and how much financial, legal, and social firepower do they have at their disposal? Who is being hurt by the hacking?

    You and I, we’re the small fry, the limping gazelles at the watering hole. We get hacked, our life savings get stolen, our credit is ruined forever, and the powers that be couldn’t possibly care less. THEY didn’t get hurt. We, on the other hand, can do… what? File a police report? Spend the rest of our lives filling out paperwork?

    The banks and credit bureaus? They’re the 800-pound gorillas in a bad mood just begging for someone to piss them off so they have an excuse to pound you to a pulp. They get defrauded of a few thousand dollars and they’ll spend half a million just to make an example so the next guy thinks twice about screwing with them.

    Of course, if there’s a “Robin Hood” hacker out there who really is feeling suicidal and wanting a big pot of wealth to redistribute, they could always try hacking the mob or the drug kingpins…

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