We’ve all heard horror stories about fraud that’s committed by unscrupulous individuals who use names, addresses, Social Security numbers, credit card numbers, and so forth to commit crimes. One of Peter’s clients had his wallet stolen and within a week the thief or thieves had ordered an expensive monthly cell phone, applied for a VISA credit card, had a credit line approved to buy a new computer, received a PIN number from the Department of Motor Vehicles to change his driving record information online, and more.
To limit the damage that can be done to you in case of theft, follow these rules — they can go a long way to protecting you against fraud:
- Place the contents of your wallet on a photocopy machine and copy both sides of all documents contained within it including your license, credit cards, etc. By doing this little exercise, you will know what you had in your wallet if it is ever lost or stolen. You will also have all of the account numbers and phone numbers for these items readily available so that you can call and cancel accounts. Keep the photocopies in a safe place.
- File a police report immediately in the jurisdiction where the wallet was stolen; this proves to credit providers that you were diligent in your action against the thief. It is also the first step toward an investigation (if there ever is one).
- Call the three national credit reporting organizations (Equifax, Experian, Trans Union) immediately to place a fraud alert on your name and Social Security number. By doing so you can prevent thieves from doing such things as making an application for credit over the Internet in your name. The alert warns companies that check your credit that your information was stolen and they will have to contact you personally by phone to authorize new credit.
By following the above outlined secrets, you can stop thieves dead in their tracks. But the key is to do it immediately upon discovering your wallet has been stolen. Following is contact information to help you protect yourself in case of theft:
Credit Reporting Agencies
Equifax: (800) 525-6285
Experian : (800) 397-3742
Trans Union: (800) 680-7289
SS Administration Fraud Line: (800) 269-0271