If you have ever talked with anyone who has had their identity stolen or their banking cards compromised, you know what a mess can be in store for an unsuspecting person. So today we are going to veer from the fun of story-telling to share an email that was supposedly written by a corporate attorney to some employees for their benefit.
I am a little leery of anonymous emails, especially in this case where the English skills needed some brushing, but I’m also keen on good advice. We know that Benjamin Franklin, the guy whose picture is on a $100 bill, once told us that “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” If you take a couple of easy steps, you’ll be amazed if the unthinkable happens to you.
Here are some safeguards that could prove to be invaluable:1
. Do not sign the back of your credit cards. Instead, put 'PHOTO ID REQUIRED' in the signature space.
2. 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.
3. Have your work phone numbers on your checks instead of your home phone. If you have a Post Office Box use that instead of your home address. If you do not have a P.O. Box, use your work address. Never, under any circumstances, have your Social Security number printed on your checks. You can add it, if it is necessary, but if you have it printed, anyone can get it.
4. Place the contents of your wallet on photocopy machine and make a copy of all documents. Copy both sides of each license, credit card, etc. This way you will have a copy on hand if your wallet is ever stolen or misplaced and it will be much easier reporting any lost cards. It is also a good idea to have a copy of your passport and to carry the copy in a different bag that where your passport is usually kept.
5. If a credit card is stolen or missing, it should be cancelled immediately. The key is having the toll free numbers handy and they are found on the back of the missing card. A copy will enable you to report the card, as well as supply you with the card number. Again, keep the copies securely locked away in an area away from where your cards are kept.
6. File a police report immediately in the jurisdiction where your credit cards, etc., were believed to have been stolen. This proves to credit providers you were diligent, and this is a first step toward an investigation (if there ever is one).
7. Call the three national credit-reporting organizations immediately to place a fraud alert on your name and also call the Social Security fraud-line number. Few people think of this but some criminals may try to open an account at a bank and obtain credit – in your name! If you get into trouble, call:
1.) Equifax: 1-800-525-6285 or 1-800-525-6285
2.) Experian (formerly TRW): 1-888-397-3742 or 1-888-397-3742
3.) Trans Union : 1-800-680 7289 or 1-800-680 7289
4.) Social Security Administration (fraud line): 1-800-269-0271 or 1-800-269-0271.
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If you choose not to follow these easy steps, that’s okay with me. But let me tell you what Ron White, my very favorite comedian, said one time: “If I could offer one piece of advice to the planet, it would be this: Don't marry for looks alone, and I'll tell you why. In a few years, when my wife’s breasts start sagging, she can get plastic surgery, have them lifted, move the nipple wherever. If her belly gets too big, she can get a tummy tuck and have a belly like a cheerleader. If her vision goes bad, she can have LASIK surgery and have 20/20 vision. If her hearing goes bad, they can install a device in her ear that will give her hearing as clear as it was the day you were born. But let me tell you something, folks: You can't fix stupid. There's not a pill you can take; there's not a class you can go to. Stupid is forever."