Losing documents results in ‘Catch 22’

By Karl Terry, Local Columnist

Identity theft is a terrible thing but simply misplacing your identity isn’t a lot of fun either.

My wife recently lost her purse containing her credit cards, driver’s license, Social Security card and approximately $5,000 in makeup. She said the loss of all of her personal information made her feel like a “non-person.”

There is no doubt, those cards, with identifying numbers and expiration dates have become a big part of our lives. Replacing them as quickly as possible is essential even if it is a huge aggravation.

The credit cards were the easy part. A quick call to the various card issuers stopped the lost cards and put new ones on the way. The driver’s license and Social Security card were another matter. You need to show your Social Security Card to get a license and it helps a lot to be able to show your driver’s license when applying for a new Social Security card.

After finding out we needed the Social Security card to get the license, we grabbed up the documents we thought might be of use and went to the Social Security Office in Clovis.

Any place where you have to take a number and wait you know is not going to be a lot of fun. Finally, after nearly an hour’s wait, our number came up and we explained our problem and offered the birth certificate we figured would be the most necessary document. Wrong.

Without the driver’s license they couldn’t use that as the second form of identification. Instead, they asked us to bring in a hospital record.

That sounded pretty absurd to me but not as crazy as the Mexican banker who had to get ID from me to replace lost Travelers Checks while on vacation south of the border. The guy carefully read the English instructions for the checks and noticed he needed three forms of ID to replace my checks. He handed my driver’s license back to me and gave me careful directions to a copy center around the block, where he said I should have three copies of my license made. I just shook my head and complied with the guy.

I shook my head as we left the Social Security office and told my wife this “Catch 22” was not unlike that event.

A week later with a hospital record and our marriage license in hand we steeled ourselves for another grueling trip to the Social Security office by first having lunch first. When we got there the parking lot was abandoned and the flag wasn’t flying. We figured we had probably overlooked a holiday. Instead the place was vacant except for the security guard, who it turns out we knew from years ago in Tucumcari, and the manager of the local office.

We were instructed to take a number, even though the waiting room was abandoned, but we were quickly called to the window. In five minutes we had applied for a new Social Security card and a Medicare card and were on our way.

Next week we plan to take on another government dead zone — the Motor Vehicle Department.

Karl Terry writes for Freedom New Mexico. Contact him at: