Well, technically I’m still me, but apparently, someone else is also me. In most situations, it’s not good to have two different people identifying as the same person. Things can get awfully confusing.
There used to be a time when the DiSclafanis in the telephone book were all my relatives; aunts, uncles or cousins. Once, a DiSclafani appeared from Commack. After discussing the situation with most of the known DiSclafani universe at the time, nobody knew who that person was, yet the name was there in black-and-white.
Then came internet searches. I’ve Googled myself many times and found, to my surprise, there were a few of me around. Other than my fraternal grandfather, I never knew any other Paul DiSclafani. Yet, the internet identified two more of me, one in Pennsylvania and another in New Jersey, both deceased. Too bad, I would like to meet another Paul DiSclafani someday.
DiSclafani is a unique name, to begin with. There are plenty of Sclafanis around, one even owns a tomato sauce you can buy at the supermarket. But there aren’t many of us with the “Di” added. As a kid, friends with common last names like Bobby Gannon and Patrick O’Neill had plenty of baseball players sharing their names, but not me. The closest I’ve ever come is a pitcher named Anthony DeSclafani (currently pitching for the Cincinnati Reds), but he’s a “De,” not a “Di.” It’s still fun to hear the announcer call his name because it’s pronounced the same way.
A few weeks ago, I got an alert from Life-Lock, a company that specializes in identity theft. They innocently asked me if I had recently opened a new account with Verizon Wireless in New Jersey. Although I’ve been to New Jersey several times and passed through it often, I certainly had no reason to open a Verizon Wireless account there. After consulting with the kids and my wife, I confirmed that nobody in my family opened a new account.
During a friendly conversation with a Life-Lock representative, she understood this account should be denied and warned me to be vigilant. I should contact some of the other credit services, like Equifax, to make sure there was no additional suspicious activity. I did just that and never gave it a second thought. After all, that’s what these protection companies are all about, right?
So, it was quite a surprise when I got two invoices from Verizon Wireless in New Jersey with my name and address on them, but phone numbers I didn’t recognize. I immediately contacted Verizon.
I spoke to “Thomas” who quickly asked me for my “pin” number. I told him I didn’t have a “pin” number because these two phones were not authorized by me. We went back and forth a few times about that stupid “pin” number before he finally transferred me to the “fraud” unit.
After 45 minutes of being thanked by the automated voice and telling me how important my call was, I was able to work with the fraud unit to get these accounts canceled, so all’s well that ends well, I guess.
Just to be sure, I called one of those telephone numbers to see if someone would pick up. The calls went directly to a voicemail box. Not that I really thought I would hear my own voice on the greeting, but I was a little disappointed that no one on the other end sounded like me. I left a detailed message on the voicemail, wishing terrible things to happen to them in the future but thanking them for choosing to identify themselves as me. It showed they had good taste.
After all, imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, isn’t it?
Paul DiSclafani, a Massapequa resident, is a 2018 Press Club of Long Island award winning columnist and an Anton Media Group contributor since 2016.