Limiting Identity Theft Damage

For what its worth...
Read this and make a copy for your files in case you
need to refer to it someday. Maybe we should all take
some of his advice!

A corporate attorney sent the following out to the
employees in his company.

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. 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.

3. 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. (DUH!) You can add it if it is necessary. But
if you have it printed, anyone can get it.

4. 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, credit cards, etc.

Unfortunately I, an attorney, have firsthand knowledge
because my wallet was stolen last month. Within a
week, the thieve(s) 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 here's some critical information to limit the
damage in case this happens to you or someone you
1. 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.

2. 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: (I never
even thought to do this).

3. Call the three national credit reporting
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
thieves' 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=20
Experian (formerly TRW): 1-888-397-3742
Trans Union: 1-800-680-7289=20

Social Security Administration (fraud line):

- Author is unknown