Steps to Protect You From Identity Theft
The next time you order checks have only your initials (instead of first name) and last name put on them. If someone takes your check book 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.
Put your work phone # on your checks instead of your home phone. If you have a PO Box use that instead of your home address, if you do not have a PO Box use your work 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.
Do not sign the back of your credit cards. Instead, put "Demand PhotoID".
When you are writing checks to pay on your credit card accounts, DO NOT put the complete account number on the 'Memo' line. Instead, just put the last four numbers. The credit card company knows the rest of the number.
Put your work phone # on your checks instead of your home phone. If you have a PO Box use that instead of your home address. If you do not have a PO Box, use your work address. Never have your SS# printed on your checks.
Put a scanned copy of your passport on your web based email account. This way you'll have access to it anywhere if you should lose the original.
Place the contents of your wallet on a photocopy machine or scan them and 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.
But here's some critical information to limit the damage in case this happens to you or someone you know: We have been told you should cancel your credit cards immediately. But the key is having the toll free numbers and your card numbers handy so you know whom to call. Keep those where you can find them easily. File a police report immediately in the jurisdiction where it was stolen, this proves to credit providers you were diligent, and is a first step toward an investigation (if there ever is one).
But here's what is perhaps most important: Call the three 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.
Let me know if you found this information helpful. -
The numbers are:
Equifax: 1-800-525-6285 These folks will notify the other credit bureaus if you put a fraud alert on your account. The fraud alert remains active for 90 days. I did this and it went smoothly and fast. Everything was entered by the phone keypad. They will send a confirmation in the mail.
Experian (formerly TRW): 1-888-397-3742
Trans Union: 1-800-680-7289
Social Security Administration (fraud line): 1-800-269-0271