I received this in email from a co-worker today.  Most of it seems like reasonable advice.  See what you think:

  1. 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.
  2. Do not sign the back of your credit cards. Instead, put "PHOTO ID REQUIRED". [I have seen this not work, since your credit card requires you to sign the card to make it "active".  My mom does it, and I think she's been asked about it once.  Your mileage may vary.  -Owen]
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.  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:
  6. 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.
  7. 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).
  8. But here's what is perhaps most important of all : (I never even thought to do this.) Call the 3 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 dead in their tracks.
  9. Now, here are the numbers you always need to contact about your wallet, etc., has been stolen:
    1. Equifax: 1-800-525-6285
    2. Experian (formerly TRW): 1-888-397-3742
    3. Trans Union: 1-800-680-7289
    4. Social Security Administration (fraud line): 1-800-269-0271


We pass along jokes on the Internet; we pass along just about everything.  But if you are willing to pass this information along, it could really help someone that you care about.

Comments

#2 - I sign mine and put ASK FOR ID there. The signature makes little difference since mine isn't exactly small, but the 'ask for id' bit works almost all the time.

When a clerk does ask, I make sure to make a point of thanking them and talking about how much I appreciate them asking me.

Douglas

The only thing I put on the back of all of my cards, yes there are too many, is CID. I have never had a problem, in fact, some people still don't as me for ID.

1. Never thought about that before...

2. I never sign mine. Rarely do I have a problem about it. Some stores are like, you need to sign that, you're supposed to sign that, and while they're really pushy about it, they still take it. And I've heard this go both ways. I say don't sign it because then someone knows what my signature looks like while others say well if you don't sign them then they can make up anything. But i think it's better not signing it- if they get my whole purse, they don't know how to sign checks and my credit card company should back me up, especially when they DO see how the signature is. Make sense?

3. Never thought of this either... but I pretty much pay online for amost everything now through my bank and the sites of places that have their own pay online thing.

4. Never put your SSN on your driver's license either. You have the right to get that removed. From what I understand, you're actually never really required to give it out - however, individual services can be denied without it. Doesn't make much sense, really.

Yeah and the rest... common sense/good ideas.

I always say that the scariest movie is The Net...

On #2, make sure you write something on your credit card. If you don't sign it at all, and someone steals the card, all they'd have to do is sign your name in their handwriting and start using the card like crazy

Got one for your list. In petrol stations especially, but important anywhere, always make sure that you keep an eye on your card, as what has been happening is the cashires are using card readers under the desk to steal card details and sell them on to fraudsters.

The other thing is if you hand over a large note for a small purchase, always say "I'm sorry it's a twenty, I've got no change" etc, then they can't short change you :) My grandad memorises the first four digits of the number on the note, which I'm told works too.

As for number 2, in France and now in the UK we are all getting new credit (or debit in my case) cards which are chipped. The whole Chip & Pin system is supposed to reduce fraud, as the store never gets hold of your card, but in Marks and Sparks in Leeds, there is a male cashier in the menswear department who always takes your card off you, doesn't that defeat the object of not giving them your card? Plus when mum's card came she had no pin, so they'd let her sign for it, so what's the use of that, you're back at stage one.

When I don't sign them, I find it depends on the store and how the clerks are trained. And as a former clerk, it is appreciated when you are thanked for checking. The change of name on the checks is a good idea! As for SS#, my health insurance company uses it on my medical card! Also, someone used my card number in Australia to purchase major appliances, but my card company contacted me. They also had me contact the national credit reporting organizations.

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