Attorneys' Advice For Fraud Protection

1. The next time you order checks, put only your initials (instead of your first name) and last name 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. Do not sign the back of your credit cards. Instead, put "PHOTO ID REQUIRED."

3. When you are writing checks to pay 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 the processing channels won't have access to it.

4. Put your work telephone # 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 necessary, but if you have it printed, anyone can get it.

5. Place the contents of your wallet on a photocopy machine. Copy both sides of each license, credit card, etc. You will know what you had in your wallet with 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 abroad.

Here's more information to limit the damage in case your purse or wallet is stolen:

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 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).

3. Call the three major credit-reporting organizations immediately to place a fraud alert on your name and Social Security number. If a fraudulent application for credit is made over the Internet in your name, any company that checks your credit knows your information was stolen, and they must contact you by phone to authorize new credit.

Here are the numbers to contact if your wallet has been stolen:
1.) Equifax: 1-800-525-6285
2.) Experian (formerly TRW): 1-888-397-3742
3.) Trans Union: 1-800-680-7289
4.) Social Security Administration (fraud line): 1-800-269-0271

Posted April 2005 | Permanent Link

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