Identity Theft and Credit Card Protection
Identitiy theft affects nearly 10 million Americans each year. We rely on technology every day to share personal information, to track finances, to conduct business and to communicate. Keeping track of all your personal information that is publicly available is essential to preventing identity theft.
Most everyone is susceptible to identity theft.
Things you can do yourself
When you order checks have only your initials and last name put on them. Your bank will know you sign your name with your first name but anyone that might steal your checkbook will not know.
Put your work phone number on your checks instead of your home number. Use a P O Box or work address instead of your home address on your checks.
Never have your Social Security Number put on your checks.
When writing checks to pay your credit card bills, DO NOT put the complete account number on the for line. Instead put just the last four numbers. This way anyone handling your check as it passes through all the check processing channels won't have access to your credit card number.
Place the contents of your wallet on a photocopy machine. Do both sides of each license, credit card, pin numbers, etc. that you have in your purse or wallet. This way you will know what you had in your wallet along with all the account numbers and phone numbers if your wallet is stolen or lost. Keep the photocopy in a safe place.
With the photocopy you made keep a list of the toll free numbers for your cards so you know who to call and call them immediately.
File a police report immediately in the jurisdiction where your credit cards, etc. were stolen. This proves to credit providers that you were diligent.
Call the 3 national credit bureaus (Experian, Equifax and TransUnion) to place a fraud alert on your name and Social Security number. This alert means that when any company checks your credit they have to contact you by phone to authorize new credit. See the "Credit Bureaus" tab on this site to get contact information.
Contact the Social Security Administration fraud line (1-800-269-0271) to report your social secuirty number as stolen.
To sum things up, guard your personal information constantly. Even with your close friends.