The First Responder

Tuesday, August 16, 2005 August 2005   VOLUME IV ISSUE 4  

PEAC-WMD The First Responder

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Seriously Speaking
Help Prevent Credit & ID Theft

STOP CREDIT CARD AND IDENTITY THEFT

 

ATTORNEY’S ADVICE – NO CHARGE

Read this and make a copy for your files in case you need to refer to it someday.  Maybe we should all take some of his advice!

 

A corporate attorney sent the following out to the employees in his company.

 

  1. Do not simply sign the back of your credit cards.  Instead, put “PHOTO ID REQUIRED”, along with your signature.  (Most major credit cards say “Void without signature” on the back, so leaving it blank, or simply putting “Photo ID Required” may not do it for the merchant taking the card.

 

  1. When you are writing checks to pay on your credit card account, 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.

 

  1. Put your work phone number on your checks instead of your home phone.  If you have a PO Box, use that instead of your home 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.

 

  1. 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 against us by stealing a name, address, Social Security number, or credit cards. 

 

Unfortunately, I, an attorney, have firsthand knowledge because my wallet was stolen last month.  Within a week, the thief(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: 

 

·   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.

 

·   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.)

 

·   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 when 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.


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