Monthly Archives: November 2010

Protect Against Identity Theft

“Back Up” Your Wallet: 7 Steps You Can Take To Protect Against Identity Theft

We’ve all heard about “backing up” computers to protect our data–but what about your wallet?

If your wallet ever falls into the wrong hands, it won’t be a welcome hassle, but there are precautions you can take to make the process easier and help you protect against identity theft.

Here are 7 suggestions for securing and backing up your wallet:

  1. Do not sign the back of your credit cards. Instead, put “Photo ID Required.”
  2. When paying credit cards with a check, DO NOT put the complete account number on the “For” line; just include the last four digits. The credit card company knows the rest of the number, but anyone else who handles your check as it passes through all of the different processing channels won’t have access to it.
  3. NEVER print your Social Security Number on your checks (you can always add it if necessary, but if it’s printed, anyone can get it). Also, keep your work number and address printed on your checks as opposed to your home information.
  4. Copy both sides of the contents of your wallet: license, debit or credit cards, etc. Keep your photocopy in a safe place so you’ll know everything that was in your wallet in case of loss or theft, including card/account numbers and phone numbers needed to cancel accounts.
  5. Terminate immediately. In the event your items are stolen or misplaced, you can easily terminate credit cards, which should be done immediately. Just call the toll free numbers on your copies.
  6. File a report. Along with canceling accounts, immediately file a police report in the jurisdiction where your credit cards and any other important belongings were stolen. This proves to credit providers that you were diligent, and it’s the first step toward a potential investigation.
  7. Place a fraud alert with the three national credit reporting organizations, along with the Social Security fraud line. This can stop identity thieves in their tracks.

Important Telephone Numbers:

Equifax: (800) 525-6285

Experian (formerly TRW): (888) 397-3742

TransUnion: (800) 680-7289

Social Security Administration (fraud line): (800) 269-0271

By following these 7 rules, you can decrease the chance of fraud and protect against identity theft, as well as lessen the trouble if it does happen. At A. Lewis Ward & Associates, we certainly hope our recommendations help strengthen the defense of your identity against identify theft.