U.C.L.A. When There’s No Smog
The UCLA hassle continues, a many headed hydra to deal with. Last fall, I took a short job working on a UCLA Film Department project for a few weeks, I had no idea that something that started out as an attempt to earn back some positive karma points (Ala “My Name Is Earl”), to maybe help create some sort of balance for some of the less stellar things I did in the ’70’s, could turn out to be such a major pain in the ass. The first warning that perhaps I’d pissed off the gods, maybe more than usual: When the project was completed, I received a check from UCLA that was 10 percent smaller than I had anticipated, and this was not because of the deduction for taxes. They had taken out that percentage and put it into a forced, and unrequested savings account. When I asked that they return the money to me, I was told that it’s a mandatory savings plan for all university employees done by their system, and that if I took the money out in less than a year after deposit, I would have to pay an early withdrawal penalty. The fact that I was only hired as a one time, short term employee didn’t make any difference. So I figured, fine, I’ll leave the money in there, and then I’ll take it out when a year has passed. Six months later, I received a check from Fidelity Investments (the place where the funds were deposited, and, as it turns out a major investor in the bad things happening in Darfur) for the deposited amount, less a penalty for early withdrawal. It seems that if you don’t have any account activity for 6 months, they’re allowed to close the account and send you the remains. But wait, there’s more. A few weeks ago I received a form letter letting me know that the computer system at UCLA had been hacked into, and all my information, including my social security number, home address and phone numbers, birth date and birth location (why did UCLA need so much information?) had been compromised. They suggested that I contact the three major credit reporting bureaus and have my records frozen so no new accounts could be opened in my name using that stolen information. Two days after that shock, I received yet another form letter from the school, saying in effect that they would be sending me my 1099 tax form electronically, unless I opted out and requested a printout version. When I called the financial office to make that request, the walking waterbed that had forgotten to let me know about the forced savings before I agreed to work there, said that I would need to give her my employee number to make this request. Employee number? WTF is that? She had that number in her files, and I’m sure the hackers had it as well, but that would meant the office queen would have to stand up and walk across the room, so instead she insisted that I would need to dig through boxes from the previous tax year on as yet unsorted receipts and such to find the number and send it to her. Growing up in the L.A. area, I had often heard that USC stood for “Unbelievably Spoiled Children”, and the UCLA was “Unbelievably Crowded with Little Asians”, now I think I’ll have to come up with a new word group for “UCLA”, any suggestions are welcome.
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