I am me, there’s no doubt about it. I have never been cloned or have a twin sister. My name is unique at least here in the Philippines as my father last name is very rare. If you meet someone with the same last name there is a big chance we are related.
But however unique my name is, I became a victim of identity theft. The government who I assume or at least trust to catch the thief has burdened me with their faulty system and the thief’s fault and her cohorts.
Yes, I am a victim of identity theft, more than a decade ago, somebody used my name to get a passport.
How did I find this out? When I first got my passport, I was called to the Directors Office of the Department of Foreign Affairs where I was told that they have issued a passport to someone who used my name and my birth certificate.
I was shocked.
Wait a minute! I have not applied for a passport ever in my life until then. How and why and what the heck?!!!
I was very much appalled by what I learned, I was confused and clueless. How could this have happened? Travelling abroad was out-of-my-mind when this thief got a passport under my name and during that time I was still a bit naïve and young and was dependent on my allowance to “live”.
Thanks to my connection during that time, I was still a reporter back then, I was assisted by the press relations office of DFA and press relations officer of NBI to find the thief.
When I got called back for the issuance of my FIRST passport, they got the thiefs file, they flashed it to me and told me that the girl is in Japan at that time so they were not able to arrest her or put her to jail.
I had the ability to read documents and see images upside down or backwards, that is one of the skills reporters acquired for their trade, and I saw that the girls was from Cavite (I am so from North of NCR and never lived in a province ever!) and I saw the face, OMG she is “pango” and “panget” (sorry for criticizing her but she deserves it coz she’s a thief) I do not in any way look like that ilong palang di na sha papasa na ako!
DFA finally issued me my passport and assured me that they will apprehend the thief.
I dunno what happened after that.
How did the thief got a passport under my name?
According to my friends at the NBI during that time, illegal recruiters was prevalent at that time. Since our system back then was prehistoric (the Green Passport is handwritten!) and if you have gone through getting government documents you know how Jurassic our system is, everything is on paper folders and drawers none of them was consolidated in one system or one record for easy access.
Illegal recruiter syndicate got assets from the system who give them information/ list of people with clear records who have not used their names yet. They get your birth certificate (it seems anyone can request your birth certificate once they get your name and birth date) and then they use it to get people who don’t have clean records or no records at and are desperate to work abroad by all means even by crook , out-of-the-country. That’s what happened to me.
They used my name because I was not using it yet.
So I suggest if you don’t have a passport yet, get one now to secure your identity.
Five years after I went to DFA to renew my green passport. I was able to get the Machine Readable Maroon Passport hassle free.
Five years after that is this year, it took me since December 2014 to book an online appointment for a passport renewal at a DFA satellite office (geez I am very much online dependent now I mean everything is online now it is so convenient, it cuts expense and saves a lot of time!)
Come April 28, I went to DFA Satellite office in Ali Mall Cubao coz that is where I was able to secure a schedule. I was confident and happy that the satellite office is clean and cool and the service looks fast. I had come an hour earlier just to be on the safe side. I was let in immediately and was in line and in it for the entire process (Step 1 to Step 4).
When it was finally my turn at Step 1, suddenly I was told “Ma’am please go to DFA main office in Pasay you are scheduled there,” the personnel said.
“Wait what? Why was I scheduled there when my paper and schedule shows I am scheduled here?” I calmly inquired.
“You are ______ Rullan right. We have a note here to turn you over to DFA Pasay . You can come there anytime you want. You can go there right now. They will assist you. They are waiting for you,” the guy said.
“Why?” I asked.
“Ma’am I don’t know po but I will give a referral and note so you can just go there anytime you wish,” he said. Then excused himself and ask his fellow DFA personnel what he will put on the note.
He attached a green note on my papers and put on the remarks: Memo PR PPT DO (5-13-05).
Confused, I stared at my paper, sat for a bit and Googled: What is DFA Memo PR PPT DO?
My search just made me more lost as it shows that 1) I need to report to DFA having travelled to Sabah as all officials need to report travel to that country all the time; 2) I need to prove my citizenship or sort as I had dual citizenship (?) and a resident of Honolulu, Hawaii (uhmmm only my Aunt lived in Honolulu for a time) and; 3) I am called for a volunteer work abroad.
All three reasons makes no sense!
So I went to Facebook and asked friends. One of them cleared my mind : about having a note/ issue on file the first time she got a passport, and since then she was asked all the time to bring that note that the issue was resolved each time she renew her passport.
This might be it. But I don’t think so, it was resolved ages ago.
Anyway, the next day I went to DFA Aseana .
Not much people there, in less than 10 minutes I was seated at the “interviewer” gave him my documents he looked for a sec then said “ OK ma’am do you have your NSO Birth Certificate, Old school IDs and other valid ID’s with you?”
“Wait, I am for renewal, I am not a first time applicant,” I said.
“Ma’am I need the other supporting document because you have an issue with your passport,” he elaborated.
“OK, is this about the issue of the other passport issued under my name years ago? But this was resolved?” I showed him my Green Passport and the Maroon Passports. “See? How could I have gotten all this passports if the issue was not resolved?”
Trying to outwit me he said “Ma’am yes we know this was resolved but we just want to make sure that you are you and that because there was a note in file we need to make sure that each time someone renews under your name have to prove that she is you or _______ Rullan so as we don’t issue another passport under your name unless it is you,” he said.
Sensing his unfounded superiority complex I backed down and said “OK, what do you need from me?”
“Just give us your NSO Birth Certificate and a valid ID supporting documents listed on our site,” “I would have approved you already had you had these documents with you,” he added.
Irate with what he said ; “You should have included in that note that this is what you needed so I don’t go blind coming here.”
“Ma’am they don’t know about this,” he said.
“You should have told them or at least include in the note! Anyway, I’ll come back ,” I am already agitated and not want an argument so I just walked out.
I cursed the one who stole my identity for giving me such inconvenience.
I wanted that person who stole my identity to die. Oh wait, if she dies I will be also be noted as dead and she might get a Death Certificate under my name. Oh shit! Shit ! Shit!
From now until forever, or at least when DFA and our government office finally adopts to technology (syncing files and keeping records updated) I will be needed to prove that I am me! Plus I don’t get the fact that we are asked to get an NBI clearance just to be told that NBI clearance are useless piece of paper as this DFA officer said “anyone can get an NBI clearance, it is not valid.”
What DFA could have done to avoid giving me the hassle and to everyone who was a victim of identity theft like me was to:
Cancel and take note of the Passport Number issued to the Fake person , NOT note the name of the person. By having NOTED the passport number of the FAKE one, they would not make a mistake of issuing another passport number to the FAKE. Do not put the BURDEN on the Real person he/she already gone through a lot having been a victim of identity theft.
Who knows what this thief have done while using MY NAME, what records she has acquired under my name! Heaven knows! I hope and pray she does and did not acquire any bad record or else if I get the chance to see her face to face I will make sure she suffers!
Identity theft is not a joke, it is you, your life, who you are on record.
How about you, have you experienced this or at least how Jurassic our government record system is? Share your story at the comment section below!
Stay gorgeous everyone!
About Earth Rullan
I am a storyteller. Influencer. Trendsetter. Fashion, Beauty, and Lifestyle Blogger. An advocate of autism awareness, women's and children's rights. A former Journalist. I am not an expert I am experienced. I do what I love no regrets. If you need anything email me at : earthlingorgeous (@) gmail.com