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Identity Theft is a Crisis of The Modern Era

We are seeing more and more cases of identity theft all the time.  The recent breaches at Home Depot, Target, Anthem, and Sony illustrate the breadth of the problem.. This issue is certainly a topic of national concern. While there are legal means to redress this problem, the best protection is to avoid identity theft altogether.  The following are some suggestions for preventing, or at least limiting the extent of, identity theft.

Six Steps to Avoid Being a Victim

1)   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 name with just your initials or your first name, but your bank will know how your signature reads.  Alternatively, avoid checks altogether and use debit cards or credit cards. If someone steals your checkbook and the register is contained with it, you may not know how many checks to cancel, and in the end, could end up canceling checks that you intended to pay. In that event, you could be hit with charges and fees from the retailers or creditors to whom you wrote legitimate checks.

2)   When you are writing checks to pay the amount on your credit card accounts, do not put their account number on the pay line; instead, list the last four numbers.  The credit card company knows your full account number and can locate your account based on those last four digits.

3)   Put your work phone number instead of your home phone number on your checks.

4)   Do not put your home address on checks. Instead, consider using a P.O. Box or your work address.

5)   Place the contents of your wallet on a photocopy machine and copy both the fronts and backs of all of the cards in your wallet.  Keep that in a convenient location.  In the event your wallet is stolen, you then have access to a complete list of everything that was in your wallet for purposes of canceling your credit cards.

6)   Never keep your social security number in your purse or wallet.

Additionally, in order to prove to creditors that you were diligent, it is important that you file a police report in the jurisdiction where your wallet was stolen.  This will help to mitigate any damages. After you have filed the police report and after you have called to cancel your credit cards, call the three national credit reporting agencies and social security to place a fraud alert on your name and your social security number.  This alert notifies creditors that your information was stolen and that they need to contact you by telephone to authorize any new credit.  Those phone numbers are as follows:

Equifax:            (800) 685-1111

Experian:          (888) 397-3742

Trans Union:     (800) 680-7289

Social Security Administration (fraud line):  800-269-0271
By Guest Blogger Mary J. Drury

About the Author

Jay Young is a Las Vegas, Nevada attorney. His practice focuses on business law, business litigation, and acting as an Arbitrator and Mediator.

Mr. Young can be reached at 702.667.4868 or at jay@h2law.com.