ATTORNEY'S ADVICE-----NO CHARGE
A corporate attorney sent the following out to the employees in his
1. The next time you order checks have only your initials (instead of
first name) and last name put on them. If someone takes your
checkbook, they will not know if you sign your checks with just your
initials or your first
name, but your bank will know how you sign your checks.
2. Do not sign the back of your credit cards. Instead, put "PHOTO ID
3. 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 will not have access to it.
4. 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. Never have your SS# printed
on your checks, (DUH!). You can add it if it is necessary. However, if
you have it printed, anyone can get it. (This may not be possible for
5. Place the contents of your wallet on a photocopy machine. Do 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 traveling either here or abroad. We have all
heard horror stories about fraud that is committed on us in stealing a
name, address, Social Security
number, credit cards.
6. When you check out of a hotel that uses cards for keys (and they
all seem to do that now), do not turn the "keys" in. Take them with
you and destroy them. Those little cards have on them all of the
information you gave the hotel, including address and credit card
numbers and expiration dates.
Someone with a card reader, or employee of the hotel, can access all
that information with no problem whatsoever. Unfortunately, as an
attorney, I 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 and received a PIN number from DMV
to change my driving record information online. Here is some critical
information to limit the damage in case this happens to you or someone
1. We have been told we should cancel our credit cards immediately.
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.
2. 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).
However, here is what is perhaps most important of all (I never even
thought to do this.)
3. Call the three national credit reporting organizations immediately
to place a fraud alert on your name and Social Security 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
and contents being stolen:
1.) Equifax: 1-800-525-6285
2.) Experian (formerly TRW): 1-888-397-3742
3.) TransUnion: 1-800-680-7289
4.) Social Security Administration (fraud line): 1-800-269-0271