Identity Theft

One of the most difficult things to adjust to in Sweden is the feeling that someone could steal my identity at any time. That is because I come from a country and profession that has instilled the need to protect your personal information. That starts with your birthdate.

Here in Sweden, everyone knows how old you are as soon as they hear or see your personnumer. But what was most shocking to me was that there is a WEBSITE where anyone, anywhere, can locate you on a map just by entering your name. It seems to be linked to some government database and they just upload it for anyone in the world to search …

If you just search for my first name, Amanda, there are 13 135 träffar (hits) and the year of birth goes back to 1907…which is why I know it has to be a government database. There are few people who are almost 103 years old who enter online contests or answer phishing emails…

It is freaky. One part of me is fascinated that a whole country is not worried about stalkers, con artists, or direct mail bombs…but in truth it makes me very uncomfortable. The first time I ordered a book online (Swedish grammar!), as soon as I entered my personnumer, my address was autofilled instantly…it took me a minute to realize that I was in a collective database that ANYONE can access!

I guess there is one advantage. If you move, you only have to tell the tax office and they take care of the rest. I am sure you can block your information but it wouldn’t surprise me if it turned up again quite quickly. All I know is that I still shred all my personal papers, and I cover my pin when I take money out of the bank, and I don’t talk on my cell in public places about personal things.

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