10 Tips to Prevent Identity Theft

Dave's picture

What is the most common source of “Identity Theft?”  If you said computer hackers you would be wrong.  What is the answer you ask?  It’s missing wallets and purses.  It accounts for nearly half of ID thefts, three times more than a computer data breach or online scam.  So before you lose your wallet or purse, take these ten steps.  Thanks to the October 2013 issue of AARP Bulletin for the information contained in this article.  Here is the link: http://www.aarp.org/money/scams-fraud/info-09-2013/prevent-identity-thef...

1.  Take out risky items.  These items don’t belong in your wallet.  Your Social Security card, Medicare card, PIN cheat sheets, blank checks, and spare keys.  Make a copy of your Medicare card and cut out the last four digits.  The only good reason to carry your Medicare card is when you have a doctor’s appointment.

2.  Make photocopies of the front and back of every card you keep in your wallet.  That includes credit and debit cards, driver’s license, insurance cards, and yes, even you library card.  Keep a record of all account numbers, back-of-the card security codes, and contact information.  Keep the photocopies safely at home.

If your wallet or purse goes missing, follow these steps:

3.  Call your credit card issuers.  Request an “account number change. ”  Do not cancel the card.  Canceling the card may be misunderstood as closing it, which could hurt your credit rating.

4.  File a police report with your hometown police department.  And file a police report where you think your wallet disappeared.

5.  Alert your bank to change the PIN numbers on your missing ATM cards.  Cancel the missing ATM card and ask the bank to send you a new one.  If your checkbook is missing also, get a new checking account number.

6.  Place a "fraud alert" or "security freeze"  on your file at the three major credit bureaus:

  • Experian at 888-397-3742 toll-free (experian.com)
  • Equifax at 800-525-6285 (equifax.com)  
  • Trans-Union at 800-680-7289 (transunion.com)

Alerts are free for everyone. A freeze is more secure and sometimes free for people 65 and older.

7.  Contact your Department of Motor Vehicles.  Ask for a replacement of your driver’s license or state issued ID.  Ask that a stolen or lost warning to be placed in your file.

8.  Ask private medical insurers for a replacement account number.  This is to prevent insurance fraud.  Don’t forget to call Medicare, and your auto insurance carrier.  Check with your homeowner’s policy to see if it includes ID theft protection.

9.  Check your credit report. Two weeks after your wallet walked-off, logon to annualcreditreport.com or call 877-322-8228 toll free.  Why two weeks?  This is enough time for the thieves to apply for credit in your name but not enough time for new cards to be issued.  Then wait another two or three months and call again.

10.  Replace your library card.

Do you have a lost wallet or missing purse story to share?

Remember, it’s rChance to Thrive, Every Day and in Every Way!

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