Women, identity theft is rising every day around the world. There are thousands – maybe even millions of scammers sitting in scrunched up offices, executing their plans to steal your identity and profit from it. Women are the most vulnerable because we are the most trusting. I do hope you will print this out and follow the advice. I have been the victim of credit card scraping (they stole just the number on my credit card), so this woman knows the consequences. They are not pleasant!
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 # 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. But if you have it printed, anyone can get it.
4. 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. I also carry a photocopy of my passport when I travel either here or abroad. We’ve all heard horror stories about fraud that’s committed on us: stealing a name, address, Social Security number, and our credit card numbers.
5. 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 (if there ever is one).
But here’s what is perhaps most important of all: (I never even thought to do this.)
7. Call the 3 national credit reporting organizations immediately to place a fraud alert on your name. But also call the Social Security fraud line number. I had never thought of doing this 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.
Now, here are the numbers you always need to contact about your wallet, etc, has been stolen:
1.) Equifax: 800-525-6285
2.) Experian (formerly TRW): 888-397-3742
3.) Trans Union: 800-6807289
4.) Social Security Administration (fraud line):800-269-0271
Ladies, I was told by an investigator that when a person steals your credit card number – they do not need your actual credit card – the very first thing they do is test your card by placing an order on the internet. If it goes through, they know they have hit pay dirt, and they will charge to your limit for merchandise they can then sell. So this is April, asking you to not to procrastinate! Protect yourselves and store the information in a very safe place.
© 2009 April Lorier