|Author:||W. Brian Dill|
The next time you order checks have only your initials and last name put on them instead of your first and last name. 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 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. It is also a good idea to carry a photocopy of your passport when traveling.
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 who 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.
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