My stomach dropped as I read the words on the screen:
We take your privacy and your security seriously. In order to process your request, you must first complete the following identity quiz.
The last time I had to take an identity quiz, I failed.
It was just over three years ago and I was in an AT&T retail store to open up my own account. I was already nervous about committing to the higher monthly fee of a smartphone and I was worried that I would fall flat on some credit score high jump.
Those weren’t the problems.
“Okay,” the clerk said, angling the computer screen and keyboard my direction, “I just need for you to answer these quick questions to confirm your identity.”
The first question was a softball to the gut: “Which of the following is a name you have used?”
At least I knew that answer I thought, as I selected my former married name, swallowing hard at the rude intrusion of the past.
I hit “next.”
“Which of the following is an account you have had in the previous five years?”
I didn’t recognize any of the names listed. With a prickly sense of dread, I turned to the clerk, “I don’t know this one,” I explained, “My ex. There was a divorce. He lied. He hid. He’s wanted for a felony. I’ve been working hard to rebuild, but I…”
My voice caught as I feared that he would again manage to interrupt my future.
“It’s okay, honey, “she replied in a nurturing tone, “I’ve been there. Just do your best and don’t worry. We’ll make this work.”
Bolstered by her conviction, I did my best on the remaining nine questions, putting forth my best guess on account names, balances and addresses.
But my best wasn’t good enough.
I failed my own identity test.
The clerk (AKA my hero) got on the phone with the finance department and went to bat for me.
“She went through an awful divorce and doesn’t know most of the answers to the questions. I have in my hand three forms of photo ID, a checkbook and a bank statement, all in her name. It’s her.”
And I could have kissed her as she finally hung up with a triumphant smile on her face.
So you can see why I nervous about submitting to another identity test.
The first question?
“Which of the following people have you resided with?”
My husband’s name. My current husband.
A tiny hint of a smile crept over my pursed lips.
“At which of the following addresses have you resided?”
The correct response was the address of the town home that my husband had when we first moved in together.
The pursing of the lips faded entirely.
The final question had to do with my current county.
I passed my identity test!
Once I was duly acknowledged, processed and allowed within the stronghold, I ran into the bathroom where my husband was taking a bath.
“I just had to take an identity quiz and all of the questions were from the past five years!!! Isn’t that awesome?!?”
“Sure,” he said, with an indulging smile.
I felt renewed as another layer of the past was shed.
My identity was stolen.
But I got it back.