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Last Updated: May 20th, 2012 - 04:16:20 

Home Money Matters  

Take Steps to Prevent Identify Fraud
By ClassBrain Staff
Mar 18, 2012, 12:50 PST

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.

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 SSN# printed on your
checks -- you can add it if it is necessary. But if you have it printed,
anyone can get it.

Get a paper shredder and shred documents that you throw away. Dumpster diving is a favorite pastime for identity thieves. Be especially careful to grind any paperwork that you throw away that have any of the following:
Anything with your signature on it
Receipts (these have your signature and sometimes even your credit card number)
Applications for credit cards or loans.

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.

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:

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: 1-800-269-0271 ( fraud line)

This article was originally e-mailed to ClassBrain and appears to have originated from an anonymous attorney. We have added information based on additional research and offer this information as a starting point on how to protect yourself from this growing problem.

© Copyright 2012 by

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