Find out how to protect yourself from identity theft the next time you write checks or order checks. What to do if your wallet is lost or stolen.
The next time you order checks, have only your first initial 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.
When 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 channels won't have access to it.
Put your work phone number on your checks (instead of your home number). Never have your Social Security number printed on your checks. You can always write it on later if you need to, but if it's pre-printed anyone can have access to it.
Photocopy the important documents in your wallet. Remember to copy both sides of each license, credit card, etc. Put the copies in a safe place and you'll know what you had in your wallet if it ever gets stolen. You will also have all of your account numbers and the customer service phone numbers you need to call so you can cancel your cards.
If your wallet is lost or stolen, file a police report immediately in the jurisdiction where you think the wallet vanished. This proves to credit providers that you were diligent.
Call the three national credit reporting organizations immediately to place an alert on your name and social security number. 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.
There are records of all credit checks initiated by thieves' purchases.
The numbers to call:
- Equifax: 1 (800) 525-6285
- Experian (formerly TRW): 1 (888) 397-3742
- Trans Union: 1 (800) 680-7289
- Social Security Administration (fraud line) 1 (800) 269-0271