Goodnight Kiss -- IDENTITY THEFT

Read this and make a copy for your files in case you (unhappily) need to refer to it some day.


  1. The next time you order checks have only your initials (instead of first
    name) and last name put on them.
  2. 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.
  3. When you are 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 check
    processing channels won't have access to it.
  4. 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. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. Keep the photocopy in a safe place. I also carry a photocopy of my
    passport when I travel either here or abroad.

We've all heard horror stories about fraud that's committed on us in
stealing a name, address, Social Security number, credit cards, etc.

Unfortunately I, an attorney, have firsthand knowledge because my wallet was
stolen last month.

Within a week, the thieve(s) ordered an expensive monthly cell phone
package, applied for a VISA credit card, had a credit line approved to buy a
Gateway computer, received a PIN number from DMV to change my driving record
information online, and more.

But here's some critical information to limit the damage in case this
happens to you or someone you know:


  1. 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 whom
    to call. Keep those where you can find them easily.
  2. 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: (I never even thought to do this).
  3. 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.

    By the time I was advised to do this, almost two weeks after the theft, all
    the damage had been done.

    There are records of all the credit checks initiated by the thieves'
    purchases, none of which I knew about before placing the alert. Since then,
    no additional damage has been done, and the thieves threw my wallet away
    this weekend.(someone turned it in). It seems to have stopped them in their

The numbers are:

Equifax: 1-800-525-6285

Experian (formerly TRW): 1-888-397-3742

Trans Union: 1-800-680-7289

Social Security Administration
(fraud line):


We pass along jokes on the Internet; we pass along just about everything.
Pass this information along. It could really help someone you care about



(C) 2004 Janet Fisher, no reprints without written permission.