Since I moved house last year, it has repeatedly surprised me how many entities knew my new address without me telling them. Every catalog I ever ordered from sent me a Christmas issue to the new address, unasked. When I ran interference for my mother in setting up her 2010 retiree health benefits, the telephone customer rep verified my identity by checking the Post Office rolls online and found my new address listed there.
I was on the phone one day to my mortgage company’s IT department, asking for their help with setting up an online account. They verified my identity in part by asking me which of three cars I’d ever owned – they said the information was culled from “publicly available databases.” Sure enough one of the makes and models was a car I used to own.
Now the FAA has sent me a reminder that I haven’t replaced my old paper pilot’s license with the required new plastic one. True – I had to go inactive in my soaring club a couple of years ago and am just now seeing my way clear to resume recreational flying, so I hadn’t worried about the license. The FAA sent the reminder straight to my correct new address. In the old days you had to make darn exacting sure to inform them you’d moved.
A new metaphor for the Internet is CLOUD, especially in the sense of the Internet teeming with resources that we don’t know the exact location of. Cloud computing may be the next big thing, but already it’s startling what all is out there having to do with everything and everyone and how common it is to pull some detail about somebody out of the flux for some reason. Case in point my car owning history and all the instances of my changed address being so handy to every entity under the sun. With one exception. My mortgage company started leaving off the unit number when they mailed me the coupons intended to be mailed in with the monthy check. It took me having two fruitless discussions with customer service on the phone followed by talking to the IT people, followed by setting up my online profile, for them to get my mailing address right. Honestly. You’d think the mortgage company would be perfectly clear on the address of a mortgaged property!