Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Stealing Your Identity

A couple weeks ago I got an authentic looking e-mail from an e-mail supplier. It told me they were updating the files and purging old accounts. They needed some information to keep my account current. I was uncomfortable giving all they asked for, so I gave them what I hoped would be enough.

Soon after, I received another email thanking me for responding but telling me that they still needed my password. It was signed with what looked like a valid signature. Though I didn’t want my account closed, something held me back from giving it out. I wrote them and told them I was uncomfortable with their request. The e-mails stopped. That’s when I realized I’d been the target of an attempted identity theft. Though a failed mission, it left me feeling vulnerable.

The next couple of days I was hit with intense fear. What if they got on my account? What if they saw some of the e-mails I had on there; bank transfers, credit card payments, etc. Could they steal all that I had? Immediately, I changed my passwords on all accounts, deleted all e-mails with personal information, and contacted my bank and credit card companies, just in case. There was no evidence of any entry to my account, but it scared me enough to beef up with reinforcements.

The whole process left me thinking. This is what the enemy does to me on a regular basis. He sends his messages to me trying to steal my identity. He wants to distort who God made me to be in my mind.

How often do I give him access into my person? I hear the whispers and don’t even pay attention. In fact I often agree with what I hear. “You screw things up.” “You are so stupid.” “Nobody wants you.” “You are too much for everyone.”

How often do I go to the extra measure to protect my God-given identity? Do I guard over my heart, or do I open the door to a thief? I can spend more time guarding over my stuff, than my heart. How often do I take what I’m hearing to God to see if it’s true? One attempt after another is made to steal my identity and I don’t even notice.

I Peter 5:8 says, 
“Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.” Am I alert to the attempts to rob me of my identity? Be watchful, it says, pay attention, there’s a thief lurking about.

When I called the bank to tell them about what happened, they told me something interesting. “People are closing down accounts and starting over all the time because they’ve given out too much information.” They are caught off guard. They are deceived into thinking that someone is helping them, while all the while they are setting them up to be robbed.

Proverbs 4:23 says 
“Above all else, guard over your heart, for it is the wellspring of life.” How well do I guard? Am I more aware of the amount of money in my bank account than the state of my heart?

The heart is the center of man. It is the center of who we are. God bestows our identity on us. It is His image represented through us. It is not marked by our sins. Our sins do not define us. Who we are is who God designed us to be. He sees us in the original cut, before sin marred our lives, before the wounds dictated lies to us.

How well are you guarding over your identity? There is one who lurks about to steal, kill and destroy. Giving out your password will guarantee you will be a victim of identity theft. Agreeing with the enemy’s words to you will guarantee the same. Agree with God’s words. Silence the enemy once and for all by shutting down his attempts. Don’t respond. Renew your mind with God’s transforming revelations of who He says you are. He knows who you are. Do you?

Who’s dictating your identity?

Who are you agreeing with?

Do you know who God says you are? If not, ask Him. He can’t wait to tell you.

Papa, thank you that you bestowed our identity on us before we were created. Thank you that in your eyes it is intact. Take us to the revelations of that true identity. Shut down the attempts to rob us and show us where we are agreeing with the enemy. You are our identity.

This devo is also posted at Heart of the Matter Online:
©copyrighed 2008 by Julie L. Todd


Tiffany Stuart said... Reply to comment

Again, you landed on such truth through your life experience. Profound! I can so relate to the enemy trying to steal my identity and taunt me with the lies.

I love, love this! Your love for God is obvious. Beautiful.

I'm thrilled to know you write from your heart and for His namesake.

Our identity is secure in Him. That's where we find rest.

Thanks for your friendship!


Becoming Me said... Reply to comment

This was so good Julie I just want to clap!! I agree with Tiffany--profound writing and profound truth.

On a side note, my mom fell for that scam about 5 years ago when it had first circulated. The wiped her bank account clean and she never got that money back.

Gretchen said... Reply to comment

Beautiful, Julie. I love the identity parallel you used. I've been a victim of "phishing", too. It stinks. My husband was soooo mad when he found out I gave out some info, but the emails look so real. He has since let me know that I can't afford to be naive. And the same can definitely be said of Satan. We can't afford to be naive. We must always look for truth and pray for discernment.

Satan tries to get a hold of my self esteem on a daily basis. But I just tell him to go to hell where he belongs. Still...my resolve is nothing. Jesus is my truth. I don't always feel this way, but I know it for sure. I've only learned over the past few years that although feelings and emotions can be helpful, they are not the same as truth.

Thank you for your encouraging post, friend. (((hugs)))

Michelle Bentham said... Reply to comment

Oh Julie,

I know what you mean. One of the issues I deal with in the grief curriculum is establishing identity and identity crisis.

Thanks for stopping by, I'm doing well. I'm in the anniversary week of Justin's accident and death and holding up really well. Not consumed with thoughts, I believe closure and healing have finally come. I still cry occasionally but not with the intensity I once did. I love that kid still... always will - but I can see his great big smile shining bright in heaven and I am at peace!

You are a blessing, glad that you got a check on that email thing. Very Tricky those phishing emails.


Amy said... Reply to comment

Julie, great article. We do need to be careful in our spiritual life also. You brought out some wonderful truth. Blessings to you.

Fort Mill Cavins said... Reply to comment

hey aunt julie! i enjoy reading your blog. i hope you all are great. miss you and love you! (this is meghan)

Sharon said... Reply to comment

Hello, Wow that sounds like a scarey situation, and also a learning experience. But satan tries to steal our identies with his lies as well. I am glad you saw this was another one of his scams, his lies.
Great reminder Thank You
God Bless

Amanda said... Reply to comment

THis is fantastic. I really am so glad I stopped by here today... I needed a little reminder of these things!!

Many blessings-

Laura said... Reply to comment

Have a blessed time at the beach, dear friend! I'm sending prayers along with you, for safe travels and lovely times...

elaine @ peace for the journey said... Reply to comment

What a wonderuful way of looking at our identity. I, too, have known the scare of fraud, literally as it pertains to our bank account. We had a huge hassle in closing down and reopening accounts, but all was cleared up in the end.

I am prone to panic and to letting the enemy rescript my identity in Jesus Christ. I'm on to most of schemes, but he's a master at implementing new ones. We must be in the Word. We must stay the course and keep to Jesus if we have a hope of living the truth of who we are in Him.

Thanks for the meaty post.


Amy said... Reply to comment


This is awesome! Your devotions are powerful! I pray that the Lord will open MANY doors for you and your writing.

Thanks for blessing me today!

Love you,

Laura said... Reply to comment

Hey, Julie! I hope you are having a wonderful vacation and Fay has not chased you away! We are home now...I'm procrastinating the unpacking! Grab on to these last days of summer, my friend! Enjoy!

Kimberly said... Reply to comment

You always speak straight to my heart! This is wonderful, Julie! And, I am so glad you didn't give your password!

I need to be more on guard about giving the enemy my password. I give ear to him WAY too much!

Thanks for this beautiful reminder of how I need to know my true identity AND protect it!


Lelia Chealey said... Reply to comment

OH Wow Julie!! This is so good and I just got an email like that also. I deleted it without giving out any info, but I love what God showed you in this. Awesome post of truth dear friend!!

Angie said... Reply to comment

I loved this post! I know exactly how you feel...I have had similar---from paypal. I just quit using it because I was "afraid". You really BROUGHT out the spiritual impact the enemy has on our "property".
Hope your trip was good! Sorry we didn't get to connect---the week was not really good---had a few problems---grandkids had some issues--then the WEATHER! Ugh! That surely wasn't nice vacationing weather!

Tracy said... Reply to comment

I've gotten behind on reading posts. Today, I printed several to read on my bus ride home. Yours was one of them.

This was so impacting! Such a great parallel. Though I have yet to experience a threat this serious in a literal sense, I've definitely bought into threats ad scams of Satan. I felt immediate conviction in reading "How often do I go to the extra measure to protect my God-given identity? Do I guard over my heart, or do I open the door to a thief?" You're so right, we can't let our guard down, we must remain alert to the schemes of the Enemy.

Thank you for the powerful reminder today of where my true identity lies!


Marsha said... Reply to comment

5 years ago I had my identity stolen. I felt so defiled. It was a terrible time for me. But even worse were the years I was in spiritual bondage because I did not understand my true identity in Christ. When I came to understand who I am in Christ, I was set free and life has been different ever since.

Thank you, Julie for this beautiful post. He is glorified.

Lisa said... Reply to comment

Great post on our true identity in Christ. I remember reading this post at the Heart of the Matter. I appreciate your comments on my post there today. I agree that moms truly are the best teachers for their kids. We are privileged to be able to homeschool them.

lori said... Reply to comment

Girl...I read that and kept thinking...I've read this before...but I read and read...and you know what..I NEEDED it today more than I did the other day when I read it....God is funny like that:)

Your heart is just revealed and such truth...I'm just so blessed that your path has crossed mine...maybe someday in person!:)

Fall is coming!! :)


Laura said... Reply to comment

Hello, my friend! Just checking in to see how one of my favorite bloggy people is doing? How is school going? We are settling in, though I am still a little tired from getting everyone where they need to be. Middle school seems to be agreeing with Teddy (except for advanced math). These days will go by so quickly, I know. You give me such inspiration to live in these moments! You are one of my favorite blessings that God has provided through this online community!
luv you!

Joyful said... Reply to comment

Julie, thanks for stopping by my blog. It's nice to meet you. I also wrote another post on "Mistaken Identity" - it's here: http://princessjoyful.blogspot.com/2008/05/mistaken-identity.html

I know exactly what you're talking about re: the e-mail thing. I too received this request...and I too felt uncomfortable. I didn't respond at all, and I never heard another thing and that was months ago now.

I'm so thankful when God gives us that little 'sixth sense', prompting us by His spirit to be cautious in certain situations. Thankfully, my identity is in Him.


Kathy S. said... Reply to comment

Julie, I just had to tell you that my pastor fell for that email.

After prayer one Wed morning, my husband called me and asked if Pastor was at prayer that morning. I told him he was standing right next to me.

My husband had recieved an email @ work saying Pastor was in England and had lost his wallet and personal info, and needed $2500 asap.

He said it didn't sound like Pastor, so he wanted to check. When I got home, I had one in my inbox also.

What happened is they stole his account and changed the password, then tried to get money from his contacts.

Our youth pastor replied to him that he could maybe send a little and asked where to send it, they told him and then bugged him a week later saying he hadn't recieved it yet.

We were glad there was no virus, and the "smarts" of the hackers could only go so far. Obviously everyone recognized that the wording wasn't like our Pastor's.

The worst that happened was he lost all his contacts. Whew!
He felt so bad as anyone would.

Love the parallel you drew.