Advice to Keep You Safe From Identity Theft

credit fraudI am passing on this timely advice that can benefit everyone should your wallet, credit card, checkbook or any other credit identifying information be stolen. Identity theft is a huge crisis in this country.  It can be financially draining not to mention time and mind consuming.

I hope it never happens to you but this will keep you prepared:

1. Do not sign the back of your credit cards. Instead, put ‘PHOTO ID REQUIRED.’

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. 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 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 . . .

Here’s some critical information to limit the damage if your wallet gets stolen or a credit card:

5. We have been told we should cancel out credit cards immediately. But the key is having the toll free numbers and your cards numbers handy so you know whom to call. Keep those 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 (if there ever is one).

But here what is perhaps most important of all:

7. Call the 3 national credit reporting organizations immediately to place a fraud alert on your name and also call the social security fraud 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.

  • Below are the contract numbers you need if your identity is stolen:
  • Equifax: 1.800.525.6285
  • Experian (formerly TRW): 1.888.397.3742
  • Tras Union : 1.800.6807289
  • Social Security Administration (fraud line); 1.800.269.0271

Mary Beth Harrison


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