Good Tips


A corporate attorney sent the following out to the employees in his company. Still good stuff after many years.

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". Since nobody even looks at one's credit card any more, don't know if this is even relevant any more.

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 initiateded 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 if 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

Added March 25, 2005


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