Growing up, there was another family named Mintz in our town. They must have been more popular in aggregate than my family, because I got used to saying, “No, those are the other Mintzes.” Despite that, I still thought Mintz was a unique name in the universe of last names. That is, until my doppelganger started acting up in western Massachusetts.
I started getting messages on my home answering machine from accounts receivable representatives. “Miss Mintz (this was the mid-eighties and people were still routinely using Miss, and answering machines) your payment is past due. When can we expect a check?” Then collection agencies, who were not as friendly, started calling. “Your account has been turned over to us for collection. Payment is due now.”
Initially I was concerned that I had, in fact, missed a payment or bounced a check, because the caller asked for me by name, and how could there possibly be another Judith A. Mintz out there? By the second or third call I was getting suspicious. When I heard from a hospital that I had never visited, I became convinced that someone had stolen my identity.
At the time, I worked with someone who commuted a long way to our office. He arrived one day with a copy of his local paper, the Berkshire Eagle, and dropped it on my desk. “What have you been up to?” he asked. There, on the front page, was a story about a woman with my name, first, last and middle initial, who had been passing bad checks and otherwise wreaking havoc in the Berkshires. The article included a picture, and it was with great relief that I saw that the culprit was not me!
I contacted a State Trooper named in the article and explained my fear that this woman was going to ruin my credit. He was kind enough to look her up in the DMV records and report back that she had her own social security number, which meant she didn’t need to steal my identity, she had her own.
After that, I started noticing the name Mintz cropping up everywhere. Today, a quick search on the Internet shows that, in and near Boston alone, there are over one hundred Mintzes! While I was relieved to find out that the other woman existed and could be held accountable for her own debts, I was sad to discover that my name was not, after all, unique.
My husband, however, is a different story. His last name is Kleppner. Chances are good that if you meet another Kleppner, it’s a relative of his. If you do, tell them I said hello.