ONE DAY IN EARLY JANUARY 2010, I carried a cup of green tea into my home office in East Boston and sat down to pay some bills. A light snow was falling, and my dogs, a shepherd mix and a blue-eyed border collie, trailed along behind me and flopped on the Oriental rug. A pretty ordinary day, until I logged on to my bank’s website and my heart dropped. In the “Balance” column, beside an account I held jointly with my mother, was a line that should have read something like “$8,000.00.” Instead I saw “$0.00.”
I didn’t need to wonder what had happened. I didn’t even consider the possibility of a bank error or question whether the automatic deposit made on the first of each month had been held up. I didn’t ask myself if it could be a case of identity theft, because I already knew that in a manner of speaking, it was.