How To Avoid Identity Theft!

(Advice by an attorney)

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 the bank will know. Brilliant? READ ON!

If you have a job, put your work phone number on your checks instead of your home phone number. You don't want thieves getting info from your kids!  Also some famous, big burglaries (tv show MASTERMINDS described this trick, ) were done by a team that called homes. The second you donít answer, they come in. Why help nasty people with guns to check where you might be on Friday and Saturday nights by giving them a home number?? HUH?

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. You don't want thieves waiting for your postman to arrive, either.

Never have you Social Security Number printed on your checks. You can write it in, if it's a gov agency and is req'd or necessary, but if you have it printed, anyone can get it.

Make photo or Xerox copies of the contents of your wallet. 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 if that wallet disappears. Keep the photo copy in a safe place but not in your car! Cars get stolen, too! And the thieves could make good use of what's in it!

A corporate attorney sent the following out to the employees in his company. This is being passed along for your benefit.

"Weíve all heard horror stories about fraud thatís committed in stealing a name, address, Social Security number, credit cards, etc. Unfortunately I, an attorney, have firsthand knowledge because my wallet was stolen last month. Within a week, the thieves ordered an expensive monthly cell phone package, applied for a VISA credit card, had a credit line approved to buy a Gateway computer, received a PIN number from DMV to change my driving record information online, and more.

"But hereís some critical information to limit the damage in case this happens to you or someone you know: We have been told we should cancel our 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. In that folder with the Xerox copies mentioned above.

"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 is probably what is most important (I never thought to do this.)

"Call the three national credit reporting organizations immediately to place a fraud alert on your name and Social Security number. I had never heard of doing that until advised by a bank that called to tell me an application for credit was made over the Internet in my name. 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.

"By the time I was advised to do this, almost two weeks after the theft, all the damage had been done.

"There are records of all the credit checks initiated by the thievesí purchases, none of which I knew about before placing the alert. Since then, no additional damage has been done, and the thieves threw my wallet away this weekend (someone turned it in.) It seems to have stopped them in their tracks.

"The numbers are:

Equifax: 1-800-525-6285

Experian 1-888-397-3742 (formerly TRW)

Trans Union: 1-800-680-7289

Social Security Administration (fraud line): 1-800-269-0271

"We net surfers pass along jokes to one another; we pass along just about everything. Think about passing this information along. It could really help someone you care about."