Identity theft includes a range of dishonest and usually illegal practices. It's on a sharp rise. Using someone else's Social Security number, taking out loans in someone else's name, falsifying credit card accounts, are all examples.
One thief racked up charges of more than $50,000 in goods and services - all to a stolen name - before being caught. This person, who is now serving time, even used the stolen name when being booked for the crime.
The Los Angeles Times quoted US Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D) of California: " 'The Internet is making it very easy' to steal someone's identity, Feinstein said. 'Any thief with a computer can do it anonymously' " (July 13).
What's an honest man or woman to do?
In facing any problem, understanding who you are in God's eyes - who you are spiritually - makes a practical difference in your everyday life. Spiritual truth always does, when you understand it. What you know about who you are is the real protection.
Who are you? The son or daughter of the divine Parent. This God knows each one of us and regards us each as precious and unique. The Maker of all has made us in His/Her own nature. And that points to an identity that is Godlike - spiritual and perfect and beyond harm. It's an identity independent of the body. It's identity that is not, cannot be, a copy of someone else's. It's not summed up in a fragile personality, nor in a set of numbers that have been assigned us.
Could such an identity be stolen? For this to happen, the thief would have to break in and steal from the all-knowing Mind of the universe that your identity is linked to - an impossibility. When we know ourselves the way the all-knowing Mind knows us, a kind of spiritual invulnerability gets expressed in human living, and intelligent, protective things happen. We might find ourselves more alert, ready to spot an attempt at wrongdoing before it got under way. Less vulnerable, even if attempts to misuse our good name and credit history did occur.
Attempts at identity theft predate the Internet age. Consider an episode as early as the days of St. Paul (about A.D. 70). He was delivering the often unpopular message of Christianity. The Bible says that certain men "started going around trying to force out evil spirits by using the name of the Lord Jesus. They said to the spirits, 'Come out in the name of that same Jesus that Paul preaches about!' ... when an evil spirit said to them, 'I know Jesus! And I have heard about Paul. But who are you?' Then [a] man with [an] evil spirit jumped on them and beat them up. They ran out of the house, naked and bruised" (Acts 19:13, 15, 16, Contemporary English Version).
Was this an attempt to "steal" the identity of Paul? Of Jesus? If so, it utterly failed. And perhaps it's an early instance showing how safe our true identity actually is.
Again, this spiritual perception has practical consequences in our human experience. The woman who established The Christian Science Monitor wrote that the "scientific sense of being, forsaking matter for Spirit, by no means suggests man's absorption into Deity and the loss of his identity, but confers upon man enlarged individuality, a wider sphere of thought and action, a more expansive love, a higher and more permanent peace" (Mary Baker Eddy, "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures," pg. 265).
The spiritual understanding of who we are is anything but a substitute for appropriate regulations controlling access to personal data. But it will give us greater peace of mind. And better ideas to protect everyone's personal information will surface. Proof will then follow of just how invulnerable God has made us.
In other words, we'll be safer.
I have even called thee by
thy name: I have surnamed
thee, though thou hast not
known me. I am the Lord, and there is none else, there
is no God beside me.
Isaiah 45:4, 5
(c) Copyright 2000. The Christian Science Publishing Society