Identity Theft

Tips to Prevent Identity Theft

The next time you order checks, only use your first initial (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 and last names. Your bank will know how you sign your checks.

Put your work phone number instead of your home phone number on your checks. Or, don't put a phone number at all on your checks. If you have a P.O. Box, use that instead of your home address. If you don't have a P.O. Box, use your work address. NEVER put your Social Security Number on your checks.

Place the contents of your wallet on a photocopy machine. Copy both sides of your license, credit cards, 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.

If your credit card is stolen:

1. Call and have it cancelled immediately. Make sure you keep the toll-free numbers handy so you know whom to call. File a police report immediately in the jurisdiction where it was stolen, this proves to credit providers you were diligent and is a first step towards an investigation.

2. Most important of all is to call the three national credit-reporting organizations immediately to place a fraud alert on your name and Social Security number. 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. The phone numbers are:

Equifax: 1-800-525-6285

Experience: 1-888-397-3742

Trans Union: 1-800-680-7289

Social Security Administration (fraud line): 1-800-269-0271

Identity theft is an increasingly popular crime and with the help of these useful tips, you can prevent from becoming a victim.