July 30, 2022
Most of what we can do include multiple options.
A choice is necessary before we can act.
But there is another choice that is available to us.
It is not to act. Do nothing.
When deciding which course of action, inaction is a choice which can sometimes carry as much consequence as all the rest.
Is your choice guided by the least effect?
Are you going for the most benefit?
Is the goal not to harm or is it to harm?
If you do nothing, what are the results?
Will inaction improve the situation or make it worse.
I once helped a client to change the name on her Social Security card.
The card still contained her maiden name.
Her Social Security account still worked normally. The funds were automatically deposited to her husband’s bank account. The agency never missed a payment.
However, it bothered her that the card did not disply her present legal name.
The solution was to log into her Social Security account and change the name. This we tried.
When signing in, we were able to guess that the user name was her email address (she had used this address for decades). But when it came to entering the password, she could not remember it. She had no secure records of her passwords. We were forced to reset the password.
The first method of reseting a password with the Social Security agency was to answer security questions. They were simple questions, like “What is you mother’s name?” None of my client’s answers were accepted. It is likely that the answers she originally entered were too complex, such as including spaces or special characters.
When answering security questions always make the answers one short lower case word. The account does not want to know the actual answer to the question. It just needs the user to repeat the string of characters when asked. Famous or public people have been hacked because they answer security questions truthfully. If the answer is publicly available, a stranger might be able to change the password.
Britney Spears might be asked, “What is your dog’s name?”
The answer is Sawyer. Anyone can Google it.
A friend of mine always answers security questions with the same word, “asparagus.”
“What is your dog’s name?”
He also uses “asparagus1” and “asparagus2.” Sometimes accounts require different answers to three different questions. Additionally, the account will always give you three chances to answer any one of the questions. My friend has this covered with his three “asparagus” answers.
But I digress…
Failing to answer the security questions, my client was left with only two options.
- Fill out a form so that Social Security will postal mail her a temporary password.
- Do nothing.
Doing nothing was a valid option, since her Social Security account was working. In fact, changing her name with Social Security could possibly result in her account not working as it should.
However, it is an advantage to be able to log into her account, just to see its status if not anything else.
We filled out the form.
A couple of weeks later her temporary password came in the mail and she was able to sign into her Social Security account. She was prompted to create a new password and answer three security questions. She answered with questions with short, one word answers. She wrote them all down and keeps them in a safe, secure place.
She decided to do nothing about the maiden name on her Social Security card, but since she now has access to her account, she reserves the ability to make changes in the future.
An equitable balance of drawback and benefit was achieved by doing something along with nothing.