A corporate attorney sent the following out to his employees in his company.

(I received in an e mail dated Dec 2006, 2007)

  1. The next time you order checks have only your initials (instead of your 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 REQUIRED”.
  3. When you are writing checks to pay 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 your work address. Never have your SS# printed on your checks (DUH). You can add it if necessary. However, if you have it printed, anyone can get it.
  5. Place the contents of your wallet on a photocopy machine. Do both sides of each license, credit card 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 travelling 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 firsthand knowledge, because my wallet was stolen last month. Within a week, the thieve(s) ordered an expensive monthly cell 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 you know:

      1. We have been told we should cancel our credit cards immediately. The key is having the toll free numbers and your credit card numbers handy so you know whom to call. Keep those where you can find them easily.
      2. File a Police report immediately in the jurisdiction where your credit cards,   etc., were stolen. This proves to credit card providers you were diligent and this is a first step toward an investigation (if there is ever one done). 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 f 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 cards 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

We pass along jokes on the internet; we pass along just about everything. Nevertheless, if you are willing to pass this information along, it could easily help someone about who you care.”

Harris Glasser – Author, Lecturer, Business & Personal Consultant
www.HarrisHelps.org “ It’s My Money & I Want It!”
(more next week)