Security: Identity Protection
An Attorney's Advice. A corporate attorney suffered the misfortune of having his identity stolen.
This page is a copy of the memo sent to his fellow employees, and circulated around the Internet.
Insights into Stopping Identity Thieves
The next time you order checks have only your initials (instead of
first name) and last name put on them. If someone takes your check book
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.
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.
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.
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 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 thieve(s) 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 more.
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 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 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 this).
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 it 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
The numbers are:
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 on the internet; we pass along just about everything.
Pass this information along. It could really help someone you care about.