Preventing Identity Theft
Identity theft is becoming increasingly common. The following tips and advice are provided to help you protect your sensitive information.
  • The next time you order checks have only your initials (instead of first name) and last name put on them. If someone takes your checkbook, they will not know if you sign your checks with just your initials or your first name, but your bank will know how you sign your checks.
  • Do not sign the back of your credit cards. Instead, put "PHOTO ID REQUIRED."
  • When you are writing checks to pay on your credit card accounts, DO NOT put the complete account number on the "For" line. Instead, just put the last four numbers. The credit card company knows the rest of the number, and anyone who might be handling your check as it passes through all the check processing channels won't have access to it.
  • If you have a P.O. Box, use that instead of your home address. Never have your SS# printed on your checks. You can add it if it is necessary. But if you have it printed, anyone can get it.
  • Place the contents of your wallet on a photocopy machine. Do both sides of each license, credit card, etc. You will know what you had in your wallet and all of the account numbers and phone numbers to call and cancel. Keep the photocopy in a safe place. I also carry a photocopy of my passport when I travel either here or abroad. We've all heard horror stories about fraud that's committed on us in stealing a name, address, Social Security number or credit cards.
The following information can help limit the damage in case this happens to you or someone you know:

  • Keep the toll free numbers and your card numbers handy so you know whom to call.
  • File a police report immediately in the jurisdiction where your credit cards, etc., were stolen. This proves to credit providers you were diligent, and this is a first step toward an investigation.
  • Call the 3 national credit reporting organizations immediately to place a fraud alert on your name and Social Security number. The alert means any company that checks your credit knows your information was stolen, and they have to contact you by phone to authorize new credit. Here are the numbers you always need to contact if your credit card(s) etc., has been stolen:

    Equifax: 1-800-525-6285
    Experian (formerly TRW): 1-888-397-3 742
    Trans Union: 1-800-680-7289
    Social Security Administration (fraud line): 1-800-269-0271

       
       
       

       
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