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Prevent Identity Theft

Updated on February 25, 2007

A friend of mine sent me these simple and practical steps any one of us can and should take to better protect ourselves against identity theft and fraud:

1. Do not sign the back of your credit cards. Instead, put "PHOTO ID REQUIRED."

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.

3. 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.

4. Never have your Social Security number printed on your checks. You can add it if it is necessary. But if you have It printed, anyone can get it.

5. Place the contents of your wallet on a photocopy machine. Copy 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. Also carry a photocopy of your passport when you travel either here or broad. 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.

6. 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.

7. Call the 3 national credit reporting organizations Immediately to place a fraud alert on your name and also 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. Here are the numbers you will need to contact about your stolen wallet, etc.:

A.) Equifax: 800-525-6285

B.) Experian (formerly TRW): 888-397-3742

C.) Trans Union: 800-6807289

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


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    • streetsmart profile image

      streetsmart 8 years ago from San Francisco, California

      thanks for this. very helpful.

    • vic profile image

      vic 10 years ago

      I like your idea of destroying the credit card receipts. One can never be too protected.

    • livelonger profile image

      Jason Menayan 10 years ago from San Francisco

      Great advice. I've done #1 since a friend told me about her identity theft problems a few years ago. An FBI person told her to do that.

      Another thing I do is destroy credit card receipts from restaurants and shops, especially those that are stupid enough to reprint my entire credit card number and expiration date on the receipt. Call me paranoid, but I shred those and flush them down the toilet!