Can you imagine what would happen if you were at the grocery store checkout and your credit card was flagged for fraud?

Not only could you not buy food for you and yours, you’d then have to go down to your bank or call to get things straightened out. Only, what would you do if your bank told you there was nothing anyone could do because the government had officially declared you dead to the system?

Apparently this happens to around 9,000 Americans every year, and it completely wrecks their lives (no pun intended).

Via 60 Minutes:

Most people never find out how it happens but when the federal computer says you’re dead, you might as well be. The terrible news is relayed by the government to banks and credit agencies. Judy Rivers told us she had $80,000 in her accounts, but when she tried to use a bank card at a store, they assumed she was an identity thief.

Scott Pelley: You couldn’t get access to your bank accounts. You couldn’t get a credit card. How did you live?

Judy Rivers: Well, for a time I lived in my car. And I couldn’t get an apartment. I had my debit cards, which were, of course, no good. I used one without knowing the consequences, and was actually taken to jail and questioned because they thought I was an identity thief.

Scott Pelley: You ended up arrested? Ended up living in your car because of all of this.

Judy Rivers: For six months.

Scott Pelley: You had been eliminated from the human race.

Judy Rivers: Cyber ghost.

Being labeled as a cyber ghost in today’s increasingly computerized world leaves you screwed, a lot like Sandra Bullock was in The Net. Once word hits the myriad databases that make up our near cashless grid in cyberspace, it becomes almost permanent and impossible to fix.

Simple error, be it human or computer, can digitally kill people and apparently it’s not even remotely a simple fix.

It took Judy Rivers five years to get her life back, and now she has to carry a letter from the SSA everywhere she goes, which she gets updated once a month, that declares she is indeed alive.

Can you imagine having to carry around a letter that says you are alive?

Worse, though, is how many people the systems pays benefits to who actually are dead and shouldn’t be getting any. The system currently has 6.5 million people listed who are over the age of 111. Guess that’s why North Carolina has hundreds of people absentee voting who are over the age of 110. Millions of dollars are being paid out to these centenarians.

The system also “mistakenly” paid out over $20 million in benefits to 133 Nazi war criminals.

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