Sunday, February 23, 2003

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.

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 -- you can add it if it is necessary. But if you have it
printed, anyone can get it.

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

A corporate attorney sent the following out to the employees in his
company. I pass it along, for your information:

We've all heard horror stories about fraud that's committed on us in
stealing a name, address, Social Security number, credit cards, etc.

Unfortunately I, an attorney, have firsthand 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, received a PIN
number from DMV to change my driving record information online, and

But here's some critical information to limit the damage in case this
happens to you or someone you know:

We have been told we should cancel your 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 easily.

File a police report immediately in the jurisdiction where it was
stolen, this proves to credit providers you were diligent, and is a
first step toward an investigation (if there ever is one).

But here's what is perhaps most important: (I never even thought to do

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 in their tracks.

The numbers are:

Equifax: 1-800-525-6285

Experian (formerly TRW): 1-888-397-3742

Trans Union: 1-800-680-7289

Social Security Administration (fraud line): 1-800-269-0271

We pass along jokes; we pass along just about everything. Do think about
passing this information along.
It could really help someone you care about.

From Harry Charles