7 Secrets to Prevent Identity Theft

7 Secrets to Avoid Identity Theft @AdriansCrazyLif Identity theft is almost epidemic these days. Here are a few tips to help you not fall victim to it. Here is some good common sense advice that was passed onto me years ago by an attorney I know.   With all of the security breaches we’ve been having lately, this is some excellent advice to do whatever you can to prevent identity theft and to limit the amount of damage if it does happen to you.

ATTORNEY’S ADVICE – NO CHARGE

Not a joke!! Even If you dislike attorneys..you will love them for these tips.

Read this and make a copy for your files in case you need to refer to it someday.

    1. Do not sign your name to the back of your credit cards. Instead, put ‘PHOTO ID REQUIRED.’ That way someone can’t forge your signature and use your card.
    2. 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.  (Adrian here – like most people these days, I use online bill pay, so I’m wondering how this works with online bills – I’ll have to look)
    3. 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. That way if someone steals your checks, they can’t come rob your house as well. Never have your driver’s license printed on your checks. You can write it in if necessary. But if you have it printed, everyone you write a check to has access to it.
    4. Place the contents of your wallet on a photocopy machine. Do both sides of each license, credit card, etc.  Trust me – you will NEVER remember every single thing you have in your wallet!  This way, you can easily see exactly what was in your wallet AND you’ll have all of the account numbers and phone numbers to call and cancel, if needed. Keep the photocopy in a very safe place like a safety deposit box or locked safe. You do need to move QUICKLY – even an hour’s delay can result in additional damage to your credit.
      • I also carry a photocopy of my passport when I travel either here or abroad (especially abroad). We’ve all heard horror stories about fraud that’s committed on us in stealing a name, address, social security number, credit cards. And if your passport is stolen in a foreign country, having a copy of it will expedite getting a replacement.
      • Unfortunately I, an attorney, have first-hand knowledge because my wallet was stolen last month… Within a week, the thieves 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.
    5. 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).
    6. Do not give your Social Security number out to anyone if you can possibly help it. Sometimes Doctor’s offices and other places will request it, but I’m not about to have that information just lying around in a file somewhere.  Most of the time, I just say no and they just shrug and say OK.  Same thing when a cashier asks for my Email, phone number, or other info when I am making a purchase.  I just smile pleasantly and say, I don’t give out that information. They almost always just shrug and say OK. If they absolutely insist, I will either give them a false one, or make sure they are storing it in a safe place.
    7. But here’s what is perhaps most important of all: (I never even thought to do this.) Immediately contact all the national credit reporting organizations immediately to place a fraud alert on your name and also call the Social Security fraud line 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, if it 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

I hope you never need to use this information, but if you do, I hope this helps you.

PS:  This is me here – I have a service I use called Lifelock that monitors my identity and credit every month.  It’s expensive, but so far it has worked to keep my family safe from identify theft (fingers crossed).  

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Comments

  1. Great tips. I know I don’t check out credit reports often enough but I do many of these others. Stopping by from SITS Sharefest

  2. Great tips! So important to know the steps to take if something like this happens! Thanks for sharing on the #sharethewealthsunday link up!

  3. I’ve had my identity stolen before and wish I would have seen this list earlier. This is such helpful info that I’m picking it as one of my favorites to feature at this weeks Share The Wealth Sunday (and on my FB page as well). Thanks again for sharing!
    xoxo
    Lisa

  4. These are such great tips! I especially love the idea about photocopying my credit cards. I mostly use just one and probably wouldn’t even remember the other ones right away. Having a copy of them would make everything so much easier if something did happen! Thanks so much for sharing at Share The Wealth Sunday!
    xoxo
    Lisa

  5. These are all good suggestions. I need to go re-photocopy my wallet contents. I haven’t done that in a long time and what I have is out of date. We’ve been victims of identify theft once and I feel like it was a part-time job for my husband for 6 months to deal with it.

    • Yes, I have heard it is an awful experience. I’m hoping Lifelock plus my own precautions will protect me, but I am realistic that it can likely happen at any time. So copying wallet contents and stuff like that is a good way to hedge your bets.

  6. Such great information! I’m always worried about this happening to me. I’ve been lucky so far, but I really need to start doing more of this to prevent identify theft. Thank you!

  7. We got LifeLock too because there is just so much to keep track of. Great tips.

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