Many of us are paranoid about the threat of identity theft. And yet, we are routinely asked to provide personal identifiers that can make their way into the public domain and cause use financial harm and excruciating frustration to repair.
A friend in the legal and accounting world sent out some of these simple but effective things to do to help prevent you from being a victim of identity theft.
•Do not sign the back of your credit cards . Instead, put “Photo ID Required”
•When you are writing checks to pay on your credit card accounts, do not put the complete account number on the ‘Memo’ line. Instead, just put the last four numbers. The credit card company knows the rest of the number, and nobody who might be handling your check as it passes through all the check-processing channels will have access to it.
•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. If you do not have a PO Box, use your work address. Never have your Social Security Number printed on your checks where anyone can get it.
•Place the contents of your wallet on a photocopy machine and copy both sides of each license, credit card, and document you have in your wallet. 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.
• We have been told we should cancel our credit cards immediately. However, the key is having the toll free numbers to report credit card theft and your card numbers handy.
• File a police report immediately in the jurisdiction where your credit cards were stolen. This proves to credit providers you were diligent, and this is a first step toward an investigation (if there ever is one).
•Call the three national credit-reporting organizations immediately to place a fraud alert on your name and call the Social Security fraud line 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.