Identity Theft is no joke – here’s some free advice

Some useful advice worth passing along. Here’s hoping you never have cause to take advantage of it.

I just received this form a good friend. I know this is a bit off topic but ID theft is becoming a huge problem.
I’ve read some sobering stories about the devastation having your identity hijacked can wreak. Here’s some excellent
advice from an attorney about how you can protect yourself and what to do if you become a victim.

It’s rather lengthy but well worth reading and doing.

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. Do not sign the back of your credit cards. Instead, put “PHOTO ID REQUIRED”..

3. 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.

4. 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.

5. 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.

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 know:

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).

But here’s what is perhaps most important of all: ( I never even thought to do this.)

3. Call the 3 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 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 dead in their tracks.

Now, here are the numbers you always need to contact about your wallet, etc., 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

We pass along jokes on the Internet; we pass along just about everything. But if you are willing to pass this
information along, it could really help someone that you care about.

Essay Scam Busters