Don’t wait until you’ve already lost your wallet!


An attorney had his wallet stolen last month and 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 the DMV to change his 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. Do not sign the back of your credit cards. Instead, put PHOTO ID REQUIRED
  2. Do not write your complete account number when writing checks to pay off your credit card bills. Instead, only write the last four digits of your credit card number on your check. The credit card company knows the rest of the number.
  3. Put your work phone number on your checks instead of your home phone. If you have a P.O. Box use that instead of your home address. If you do not have a P.O. Box, use your work address.
  4. Never have your Social Security Number 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. Make sure to copy both sides of each license, credit card, etc… This will help you remember what you had in your wallet, and you will also have record of all of the account numbers and phone numbers to call and cancel if it ever gets stolen. Keep the photocopy in a safe place. Some people even carry a photocopy of their passport when they travel . (We’ve all heard horror stories about fraud that’s committed on us in stealing a name, address, Social Security number, credit cards)
  6. I’m sure you know that you should cancel your credit card immediately if it has been stolen. 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.
  7. File a police report immediately in the jurisdiction where your credit cards, etc…, were stolen. This proves to credit providers that you were diligent. Also, this is the first step towards an investigation (if there ever is one).
  8. Most important of all (I never even thought to do this), call the 3 national credit reporting organizations immediately to place a fraud alert on your name and also call the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) ID Theft Hot-line. The FTC will add your name into their database so that any company checking your credit must contact you by phone before any new credit is authorized.

Now, here are the numbers you always need to contact if your wallet, purse, etc… has been stolen:

  • Equifax: 1-800-525-6285
  • Experian (formerly TRW): 1-888-397-3742
  • Trans Union: 1-800-680-7289
  • Federal Trade Commission (FTC): 1-877-IDTHEFT(438-4338)

Other Important information:



1 Comment

  1. Identity theft is just one part of the problem. In order to protect yourself from identity fraud and name theft, you must carefully protect your personal records, and pursue online activities with caution. There are a number of things you can do in your everyday life to prevent identity theft. To learn more about the various types of scams out there, go to my site

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