Identity Crisis: People are Homographs

Published February 25, 2013 by krystal

My parents both have fairly common first Imagenames.  I have not checked, but those names were definitely top ten for the 1950’s and 1960’s babies.  Think of the Ashley’s and Jessica’s of the 1980’s, Haley’s of the 1990’s, and Madison’s of the 2000’s.  Our surname (my maiden name) is in the top 50 on one list.  I think it should be higher, but whatever.  When you combine a top ten baby name with a top 50 surname, you are bound to get many repeats across the nation.  People move around throughout life, and thanks to the internet (Spokeo) we can see how many Ashely Smiths there are in America (there’s about 3,500 in California, Texas, and Florida, FYI).

My parents intentionally named me a not-so-common name, so I would not be known as Ashley S. during all of my school years.  I could proudly boast my name and be the only one. Sure, everyone could say they had heard my name before, or that they knew someone who knew someone with my first name, but it wasn’t like a top 10 name or anything.  EVER.


“Mary Smith” is a homograph for “Mary Smith,” as long as you’re talking about two different ladies, just like dove and dove are homographs.

I managed to make it through life until about 21 without ever knowing my name was shared by another.  How did I find out?  Well, I thought you’d never ask!  I got a collection notice from Dillards for a Dillard’s credit card with the same name as mine (it wasn’t actually mine).  Shortly thereafter, I started getting notices from many other store credit cards.  The notices from attorneys shortly followed.  My dad, the concerned parent, sat me down to ask me about all these credit cards I had.  I convinced him it wasn’t me (because it wasn’t), and called the phone numbers on the notices. Some 20/20 special or something told me that I could be responsible if I did not clear my name, even though the Social Security Numbers and all true identifying info did not match up.  Somehow, they had all her information except they had my address and home phone number.  I could easily prove it wasn’t me, but the calls and letters went on for years (I’m pretty sure no one believed me when I told them it wasn’t me.  One of the idiots operators read me all of her info–including SSN and address at one point.  I hope they’d never give out my info like that!).  It was so annoying.  I had to call the credit agencies to make sure my credit was stable.  I think it’s all settled now.  So, I guess I’m cleared now.  Either way I’m married now and my new surname is in the top 20,000.  My name is not found on Spokeo.  I think I found one teenager on Facebook who shares the name, so hopefully she’ll marry soon and I’ll be the only in America.  🙂

Back in the 90’s my dad worked for a rather large company that had offices in many different states.  There was a man at a different office with the same name.  That made company parties interesting.  Dad said he had met one other man with the same name in his life.


Not really our house. I just Googled “dream house.”

Now for my mom, bless her heart, she has had more name issues than any of us!  In 1994, my parents built their dream home in an area we had just moved to.  Our house was progressing along, when the builder got a call from a woman with the same name as my mom.  The lady said something like, “My name is Mary Smith.  That house at 13 Elm Street is mighty nice.  I was wondering if it was for sale.”  Instead of telling her she was the future owner, the builder told her it was a custom home built home and would not be on the market.  When he told my parents the story, they assured him that it was not my mom who called.

A few years later, my mom managed to have some mutual friends with the other Mary Smith.  She might have met her once, but I’m not sure.


You got one minute!

Last week, my parents phone started ringing off the hook at 5:55 AM.  Friends and acquaintances from all corners of the state were calling to let her know that one of the local news stations called her name and she was the proud winner of $1,500!  My mom was initially excited, but then she realized she doesn’t watch the morning news show and she did not enter to win $1,500.  As she was telling this, I was looking at the news station’s Facebook page where it was talking about Mary Smith from Anytown winning the money.  Someone even said she knew it was my mom by identifying her occupation!  For the rest of the day, my mom had to tell many people that she was sadly not the recipient of $1,500.

My brother’s name must have been much more unique than the rest of us, because he never had these kind of problems!

I’m glad there’s only one Me and Mason! 😉

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