What to do if your identity is stolen…

What to do if your identity is stolen

Well ‘never say never’ because it almost happened to me. I was on a business trip and I thought I lost my cell phone. Oh man! There goes my phone, my calendar, and all my personal and client contact info in one shot. I was sick about it and couldn’t sleep.

Luckily the phone turned up in the bottom of a zippered pouch in my carryon bag.

I did learn some valuable points about identify theft as I frantically searched for my phone and I want to share them with you.

Not All Thieves are Stupid.

  • When leaving your car parked in a long term parking lot, remove your registration, insurance info, and garage door opener just in case someone breaks into your car. They already know that you’re not home.
  • If you have a portable GPS system in your car, do not put your home address in the unit and call it ‘My Home’ or ‘My Address’. Simply put in the next street over with no number. Then once you get close to home you are all set.
  • On your contacts list in your cell phone, do not list your spouse as Hon, Hubby, Honey, etc. I’ve heard of a women whose purse was stolen and the thieves texted her husband for the PIN number to their ATM card. The rest of the story was not pretty.
  • The mall scam – A lady went grocery-shopping at a local mall and left her purse sitting in the children’s seat of the cart while she reached something off a shelf…wait till you read the WHOLE story!  Her wallet was stolen, and she reported it to the store personnel.  After returning
    home, she received a phone call from the Mall Security to say that they had her wallet and that although there was no money in it, it did still hold her personal papers.  She immediately went to pick up her wallet, only to be told by Mall Security that they had not called her.  By the
    time she returned home again, her house had been broken into and burglarized.  The thieves knew that by calling and saying they were Mall Security, they could lure her out of her house long enough for them to burglarize it.

Points to Ponder

  • The next time you order checks, print only your first initial instead of your first name. If someone steals your checkbook they will not know how to sign the check (but your bank will know how you sign them and potentially could detect the fraud). And NEVER print your social security number on your checks.
  • Don’t sign the back of your credit cards. Print “Photo ID Required”. If the cards are stolen, it reduces the likelihood they can be used in a store.
  • When writing checks to pay a credit card balance, right only the last 4 digits of your credit card on the notes section of the check. The credit card folks will know who you are and if someone steals the check you have not divulged your full credit card number.
  • Most hotels these days now use plastic ‘key’ cards to let you into your room. When checking out always take the key cards with you and destroy them. Some hotels may place important demographic information about you on the magnetic strip of the card.
  • Compile a list of all the important account numbers of your credit cards, bank accounts, driver’s license, passport numbers, home equity loans, reward miles, etc. and the related phone numbers to contact each of those organizations. Store that data is a safe place for future reference in case of an emergency.
  • Check your credit score twice a year even if there is a fee for it. It is a small investment to either give you piece of mind or an indication that someone has or may be attempting to steal your identify.

Things to do should your wallet or purse be stolen:

  1. File a police report.
  1. Contact your credit card carriers using that list of important info you stored in a safe place. They all have emergency contact numbers and you need to maintain that info somewhere other than in your wallet or purse.
  1. Contact your bank.
  1. Contact the three primary national credit reporting agencies and place a fraud alert on your name and social security number.

Equifax 1-800-525-6285

Experian 1-888-397-3742

Transunion 1-800-680-7289

Social Security Fraud Line 1-800-269-0271

Now we both know it could never happen to you but …

A little preplanning on your part will reduce a lot of the stress and part of the inconvenience of identity theft.

 

 

 

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