Prepare Now in Case Your Wallet Does Get Stolen

By: Randy Vezina
Before anything happens to your wallet and identity, protect it by placing the contents of your wallet on a photocopy machine. Copy both sides of each license, credit card etc. (do not carry your Social Security Number in your wallet!!). If something does happen you will know what was in your wallet and know all of the account numbers and phone numbers to call and cancel. Keep the photocopy in a safe place. Carry a photo-copy of your passport when travelling in the U.S. or out of the U.S.

We know we have to cancel our credit cards immediately but the trick is having the toll free numbers and your card numbers handy so you know what financial institutions to call. File a Police report immediately in the jurisdiction where your wallet and identity was stolen. This proves to the banks that you were diligent and is the first step to an investigation. And most importantly, contact the three national credit reporting agencies to place a fraud alert on you and your identity.

&bull Equifax: 1-800-525-6285; www.equifax.com; P.O. Box 740241, Atlanta, GA

30374-0241

&bull Experian: 1-888-EXPERIAN (1-888-397-3742); www.experian.com; P.O. Box

9532, Allen, TX 75013

&bull TransUnion: 1-800-680-7289; www.transunion.com; Fraud Victim Assistance

Division, P.O. Box 6790, Fullerton, CA 92834-6790

Some other good tips to protect your identity and money is, next time you order checks have the bank print your initials (instead of your first name) and your last name. If some thief gets your checkbook, he will not know if you sign your check with just your initials, or your first name, but your bank will know how you sign your checks.

Do not sign the back of your credit card, instead write in "Photo ID required". If you pay your credit card accounts by check, don't put the entire account number on the "for" line, just put the last four digits because the credit card company knows the rest of the account. By doing it this way, all the people and potential identity thieves that see the check during the various processing channels won't see your entire credit card number.

Instead of your home phone on the checks, have them print your work phone because every little piece of your identity that is kept secret helps to protect you against identity theft. Perhaps rent a P.O. Box and put that as your address rather than your home address. If you do not want or have a P.O. Box, use your work address. Think defensively, because identity theft is becoming a major criminal industry.

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