If you’re speaking to senior-level Apple tech support person (as I am right now about an iPhone problem), you’re probably wasting your time if the technician says “I’m very sorry that you’re having this problem.” I’ve been dealing with these guys for over a decade now, and no one who’s sagely and confidently solved a problem has ever apologized for anything. Problem solvers assess and fix, period. But there’s always a first time, right? Open your heart and wait for divine providence. Then comes the second death-knell chant: “I’m just trying to help you, sir…I’m just trying to work with you.” Those are guillotine words. If you hear them you need to gently thank the tech for his/her assistance, wish him/her a good day, and start all over again.

The problem, in a nutshell, is that yesterday I misplaced my iPhone 6 Plus while visiting the Beverly Center. I reported the loss to the security and guest services guys …nothing. I went home and used the “Find My iPhone” app on my Macbook Pro…no signal. By all indications someone put it in their pocket, went home and tried to hack it. I know because I was forced to buy a new phone (8 Plus with 256K memory), and while retrieving my apps, photos and contact info from the cloud (no problems on that end) the 8 Plus software subjected me to a two-factor authentication process, which means providing not just my Apple password but a six-digit code that Apple has sent to “your other iPhone.” Huh? The bottom line is that the Apple network now believes that my current phone number ends in “14,” which it never has. The phone number ending in “14,” I suspect, was submitted by the thief in the process of hacking the iPhone 6 Plus and installing a new SIM card. The long and the short is that I’m currently unable to double-authenticate my identity, at least as far as the iPhone 8 Plus’s software is concerned.

One of the senior-level Apple support reps told me that the only way she could make the problem go away was for me to erase my longstanding Apple ID and password and create new ones. “But I’ve had that Apple ID for years and years,” I said. “I’ve bought all kinds of songs and albums with them, and if I switch out all kinds of problems will result. Why should I abandon my Apple ID because a thief has tried to hack my phone and give it a new number?” She said she had to recommend this because she couldn’t fully authenticate my identity over the phone. “But there’s a ton of information I could supply…historical background stuff, bank account #s, purchasing history,” I said. “Why can’t you verify by asking these questions?” She said her protocol didn’t allow for this. I said thanks anyway, etc. A second senior-level tech support guy pretty much said the same thing.

My next move will be to consult with a nearby Apple store “genius bar” person.