Losing Yourself: Identity Theft
Do you have concerns about the security of your identity on the Internet? Well, I have news for you…the contents of your wallet is where you should begin to protect yourself. I recently received an e-mail that had great tips on what each of us should do to protect ourselves.
Some of the tips are below:
1) 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.
2) Put your work phone number 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 social security number printed on your checks-you can add it if it is necessary. But if you have it printed, anyone can get it.
3) 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. Also carry a photocopy of your passport when you travel either here or abroad.
If someone steals your wallet, you should cancel your credit cards immediately. 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).
Most importantly, 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.
The numbers are:
Experian (formerly TRW): 1-888-397-3742
Trans Union: 1-800-680-7289
Social Security Administration (fraud line): 1-800-269-0271
Fingers crossed that this will never happen to you or me!