A few days before Christmas I received a thin, white envelope from my mortgage company, ABN AMRO. I thought it was a holiday greeting card. It wasn't. The envelope contained a two-page letter from the CEO explaining how his company had lost a computer tape that contained my social security number--and those of two million other customers. Apparently the tape went missing when the company shipped it via DHL from a Chicago data center to a credit-reporting company in Texas.
While reading the letter I pictured a teenage boy munching on a bag of Doritos in the basement of his parents' house while uploading the tape's contents onto a hacker site. I then saw myself on the phone six months later--my hair significantly grayer--desperately trying to clean up my decimated credit.