Chas' Compilation

A compilation of information and links regarding assorted subjects: politics, religion, science, computers, health, movies, music... essentially whatever I'm reading about, working on or experiencing in life.

Sunday, August 02, 2009

Email: Free advice from attorney is mostly right

I got this in my email recently:
Here is a bit of wisdom that may help you some day.

Attorney’s Advice - NO CHARGE - Not a Joke!! If you dislike attorneys... You will love them for these tips.

Read this and make a copy your files in case you need to refer to it someday. Maybe we should all take some of his advice! A corporate attorney sent the following out to the employees in his company.

1. Do not sign the back of your credit cards. Instead, put 'PHOTO ID REQUIRED.'

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. 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. If you do not have a PO Box, use your work 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.

4. 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. 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.

Unfortunately, I, an attorney, have first hand 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:

5. 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.

6. File a police report immediately in the jurisdiction where your credit cards, etc., were stolen. This proves to credit providers you were diligent, and this is a first step toward an investigation (if there ever is one).

But here's what is perhaps most important of all: (I never even thought to do this.)

7. Call the 3 national credit reporting organizations immediately to place a fraud alert on your name and also call the Social Security fraud line 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 dead in their tracks.

Now, here are the numbers you always need to contact about your wallet, if it has been stolen:

1.) Equifax: 1-800-525-6285

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

3.) Trans Union : 1-800-680-7289

4.) Social Security Administration (fraud line): 1-800-269-0271

We pass along jokes on the Internet; we pass along just about everything.

If you are willing to pass this information along, it could really help someone that you care about.

Now this all sounds like good advice, but I decided to look it up on anyway. And it turns out, it IS good advice - mostly. There are a few things, and one mistake, worth noting.

The number above for reporting fraud or identity theft to the Social Security Administration is incorrect. According to Snopes, the (toll-free) number should be: 1-877-438-4338.

The sample on Snopes was collected in 2002. But some people have added stuff since then, and there is some quibbling about the added advice. Read the page at for more information: Full Faith and Credit Card

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At Fri Aug 21, 11:23:00 PM 2009, Blogger Mark said...

What a nice tips you give here! I think you must be an attorney, by the way I like these tips. Thanks for sharing it with us.
prevent identity theft

At Thu Oct 08, 06:34:00 PM 2009, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Actually looked it up and the SS Fraud line number is correct in the original email. The toll free number Snopes gives is to report fraud to the FTC, not the Social Security Administration.

At Mon Apr 08, 10:52:00 AM 2013, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I live in Canada and received this yesterday. As usual, the information is from the USA nobody bothers to check to see if the numbers work in Canada. They don't.

See for Canadian information.


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