Protecting Your Identity

Today we are facing more identity fraud and theft than ever before.  Since my daytime job is at a bank I wanted to pass along some important tips to protect yourself, or in the event this happens to you, steps to at least reduce the damage that can be done:

1. Do not sign the back of your debit or credit cards.  Instead, write PHOTO ID REQUIRED.

2. When 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 number on your checks instead of your home phone number.  If you have a PO Box use that instead of your home address.  If you don't have a PO Box then use your work address.  Never have your Social Security number printed on your checks.  You can add it if it is necessary but if it is printed anyone can get it.

4. Photocopy 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. Keep the photocopy in a safe place.

5. We have been told we should cancel our credit cards immediately.  However the key is having the toll free numbers and your card numbers handy so you know who to call.  Keep these numbers where you can find them.

6. 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.

7. Call the 3 national credit reporting organizations immediately to place a fraud alert on your name and also call the Social Security fraud line number.  The alert tells any company that checks your credit that your information was stolen and they must contact you by phone to authorize new credit. 
  • Equifax 1-800-525-6285
  • Experian (formerly TRW) 1-888-397-3742
  • Trans Union 1-800-680-7289
  • Social Security Administration Fraud Line 1-800-269-0271
Taking steps to protect yourself now can prevent a lot of grief in the future!