In any case, the woman on the phone this fine May morning informed me that I needed to submit five more forms of ID with my signature or photo, and rattled off many possible examples of same. When I asked why my ID was not sufficient, she said she didn’t know — that was something the passport analyst determined. She said that a letter with full details would be sent out to me, but had no more information as to why I’d been “singled out” for this special scrutiny.
Later that day, I began to get a funny feeling that maybe this had been a phony call. It just didn’t make any sense to me, since I’d heard and read nothing about extra ID being required for a passport. When I checked the US Department of State’s website, I could find nothing to that effect. Furthermore, many of the links which were provided for more information did not work — at least not on my computer on that evening. I suspected that many other fellow citizens anxious to finalize their vacation plans abroad had been jamming up the site; perhaps, I thought, it was simply overloaded with inquiries.
I had caller ID, so I checked the number the woman had called from that morning and called it back. I got a message saying this was a nonworking number, and to check the number and dial again. The message did identify the number as the New Hampshire Passport and Visa Center.
There was a central number I'd received when I applied for my passport to check on one’s application status, but of course due in part to an incredible number of applications this year and this season, I couldn’t get through that night. Everyone and their uncle, cousin, and half-brother’s dog was trying to do the same thing, and after going through all sorts of automated options, endless recorded entreaties to use the website, assurances that extra staff were working virtually nonstop to process applications, and finally being put on hold to talk to the next available agent, the service eventually just hung up on me after two attempts to get through.
Still imagining the worst, I starting searching the web for info on identity theft. I even called the local precinct. The more I thought about it, the more I suspected foul play. Bad enough I’d had to submit my original birth certificate along with my application, but now it seemed like someone was intent on getting enough ID to take over my identity. I thought perhaps the postal worker who took my application was involved in some elaborate mail fraud scheme, and planned to call the Bronx postmaster first thing next morning for good measure.