] Last week, some brazen scoundrel rifled through my mailbox while I was at work and stole a returned, uncashed check I had made out to my daughter’s softball team for $100. The robbery was calculated and coincidental, all at once. This new-age forger then fled 30 miles to another town where he/she washed out the ink on the “pay to the order of” line, let the check dry, scribbled a false name in handwriting eerily like my own and cashed it, no problem. In the memo line was written “For Avon.” Now, I’m not sure what bothers me more—that some creepy person had been lurking around my home or there’s a paper trail insinuating that I buy Avon. Long police blotter short, the bank reimbursed my account and the thief will likely get nabbed. But little does this shady character know or care what havoc he/she has wreaked upon me. Because I’m not exactly sure what else was stolen from my mailbox, I could potentially be the victim of identity theft. I had to replace my mailbox with a locked one, close down and reopen bank accounts, cancel credit cards, alert credit reporting agencies, call the DMV . . . honestly, I never realized how complicated it was to be me! Identity fraud is a booming business. According to a report by Javelin Strategy and Research, one in 20 Americans is a victim of identity theft—a 13 percent increase from last year.
[/captionSocial networking has made it especially easy for identity thieves to get personal information from you. The Javelin report claims that 7 percent of smartphone users were victims of fraud, about one-third higher than the general public. (Learn how to protect yourself at privacyrights.org.) Many Native Americans know all too well about identity fraud, better known as ethnic fraud. The recent case of Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Elizabeth Warren claiming she descended from the Cherokee Nation highlights a longstanding problem of people claiming to have Native blood to either improve their job prospects, garner sympathy or perhaps even reap financial gain. But it got me thinking. Why would someone want MY identity, of all people? I’m just a single mom with two kids, an attitude and some credit-card debt. You want to step into my Payless shoes, go right ahead. However, it’s only fair that if someone steals my identity, I should get a new one, too. Of course, I would be a little more discriminating than my mailbox thief. Maybe I’ll become Lady Gaga, speaking of bank accounts. I just saw pictures of her in a skin-tight leotard, and boy does she look fit. She must be two arm curls shy of a body-building title. Then again, I could assume the identity of someone 20 years younger. But I’d have to do that whole fall-in-love-get-married-have-children-file-for-divorce number again, and I’m really not up for it. Funny, as I write this, I’m staring at a photo of my two daughters and me posing on a beach. We look happy, just the three of us, because we are. I may not be rich and famous, but to my two daughters, I’m mom. And for that, I wouldn’t trade places with anyone in the world. Freelance writer Lynn Armitage is an enrolled member of the Oneida Tribe of Indians of Wisconsin.