Some simple ways to help protect yourself against Identity Theft

  1. The next time you order checks, have only your initials (instead of first name) and last name put on them. If someone steals your checkbook, they will not know if you sign your name with your initials or your first name. Your bank will know how you sign your name, but a thief will not take the chance of trying to guess. Also a good idea for your personal credit cards.
  2. Do not sign the back of your credit cards. Instead put: “PHOTO ID REQUIRED.”
  3. When you are writing checks to pay on your credit card account, DO NOT put the complete account number on the “FOR” line. Instead just put the last four digits of your card number. The credit card company knows the other numbers to your card.
  4. Put your work phone number on your checks instead of your home phone number. Never have your social security number printed on your checks.
  5. Place the contents of your wallet on a photocopy machine, and make copies of both sides of your license, credit cards, etc.. You will know what you had in your wallet and all of the account numbers and phone numbers to call and cancel. Keep these in a safe place, but obviously not in your wallet. Also keep a copy of your Passport as well.
  6. Do not remove your credit card/debit card from your wallet while you are standing in line waiting to check out. Anyone near you with a cell phone can take a picture of your card information. Wait until you are at the register before removing it from your wallet or purse.
  7. Do not toss your sales receipt in the nearest trash cans. Instead keep them until you get home. Besides if you have to return an item, you will need the receipt for the refund. If you no longer need the receipt, tear it up in multiple pieces and put it in your trash can.
  8. Burn or shred, with a cross shredder, any mail or financial papers with your personal information on it. Never recycle them.
  9. Ask credit card companies to stop sending pre-approved credit card applications to your house. They are ticking identity theft time bombs.
  10. Ask your credit card firm to cease delivery of “convenience checks.”
  11. You are entitled to one free credit report each year. Get it as soon as possible. Order a credit report a month or more before you make a big purchase or apply for credit. This will help ensure there are no surprises in your credit history.
  12. Limit the number of credit cards you hold, and religiously inspect your financial statements each month. Consumer rights quickly fade over time; the sooner you discover an identity theft incident, the better.
  13. Just hang up on telemarketers, particularly ones who seem to be fishing for personal information, like your birthday.
  14. It’s impossible to tell what’s real and what’s fake, online. Just delete any e-mail that asks for personal information.

What to do if you have your credit cards, wallet or purse stolen

  1. File a police report immediately in the jurisdiction where you wallet, purse or credit cards were stolen. It proves to creditors you were diligent, and this is the first step towards an investigation.
  2. Call the three credit card reporting agencies immediately to report the theft of your cards, and to have a fraud alert placed on all your cards and Social Security number. Keep these numbers with you, but not in your wallet or purse. You might want to consider a 3×5 card in your glove box, center console with these numbers, or on your cell phone contacts: Equifax: 800-525-6285; Experian: 888-397-3742; Trans Union: 800-680-7289; and Social Security Administration (Fraud Line): 800-269-0271.
  3. Of course call your credit card companies and report the theft. You can go online to the credit card company’s website to obtain the number to call to report a stolen credit card.

If you take these simple steps, you can help protect yourself against Identity Theft. You can never protect yourself 100%, but these tips help reduce the ability for your identity to be stolen. By doing the 3 most important steps after you have had your wallet, purse or credit cards stolen can help minimize the damage caused by this theft.

Since many people do online banking today, including paying bills, money transfers, credit card payments, purchasing goods and services, we expose ourselves to a much greater chance of identity theft. Always look for a retailer’s security stamp indicating you are on a secure server. This just simply means you have greater protection against identity theft by this retailer, credit card company, bank, or whomever you are dealing with in which you are giving out your personal data.