Great news. I’m me again. I wasn’t me for about three weeks, but now, I’m officially me again.
Someone stole my identity. Most of the time, I would let that kind of thing go. I’m not doing a great job with this identity. Maybe someone else should have a go.
My levity in the face of this adversity faded when it cost me money.
The scofflaw attempted to claim my unemployment benefits. This proved a particular problem since I am unemployed and need those benefits to keep the lights on at Camp Daniel.
Iowa Workforce Development, which manages the state’s unemployment benefits, spotted the fraud.
They got me to upload copies of my driver’s license and Social Security card. We cleared up the discrepancies in my account.
But the unemployment office employees told me it might take a month or more for the fraud case to resolve.
This put me on red alert. The utility companies, insurance agencies and property managers tend to want to be paid on time.
Monday, a good friend and political operator, called to check on me.
I told him of my plight. He asked if it would be all right to make a call on my behalf.
Now, I was a journalist for a long time and I felt queasy about trying to jump the line with the old “who you know, not what you know” move.
I needed to get things back on track. And I’m not a journalist anymore — by decision of the current journalism warehouse gatekeepers.
So I gave the green light.
The person he called, also an old friend, forwarded the case to the Iowa Attorney General’s Office.
Within 2 hours, I got a call from the fraud investigator who was working my case.
She had just received my file, she said. After 10 minutes of verifying my information, she removed the fraud hold on my account.
My missing checks deposited into my account Friday.
Maybe all of that is coincidence.
Maybe the fraud investigator just happened to receive my case after a couple of my friends who know what buttons to push in state government pushed those buttons.
That is possible. I’m not a gambler, and I can’t guess the odds of coincidence. I want it to be true that I didn’t use influence to get back on track.
Then again, I really needed to get back on track. I’m deeply grateful to both my friends and the fraud investigator who resolved my issue.
What gnaws at me is the people whose stories are in my inbox, people who like me are on “fraud hold” and don’t have years worth of friendships and connections that maybe speed up serendipity.
One woman wrote she hadn’t seen a check in six weeks — and she was getting the minimum $203 plus the additional $300 from the federal stimulus.
What about the disabled veteran on fraud hold in KCCI-TV’s Scott Carpenter’s story from April 19? Has someone unlocked the system for him?
How many people are struggling with this “fraud hold” in silence?
I got mine. I should be satisfied. That’s how we behave in America. We look out for No. 1 and everybody else is on their own.
I don’t believe that. I don’t want to live that way. But I’m not a journalist anymore. I’m not paid to ask tough questions and make open records requests or pressure public officials for specific details and data anymore.
No, I’ve got just enough of a conscious left to feel guilty that I beat the system and just enough cynicism to realize the system is a game, but the constituents aren’t the players — they’re the pawns.