Fraud Prevention Tips

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The Michigan Collection Law Blog has posted an article that gives consumers some excellent pointers on how to protect yourself from fraud…and avoid identity theft in the process.

. 1. Do not sign the back of your credit cards. Instead, put “PHOTO ID REQUIRED” or “SEE ID.”

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. Your 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 number on your checks instead of your home phone. If you have a P.O. Box use that instead of your home address. If you do not have a P.O. Box, use your work address. Never have your social security number printed on your checks. You can add it if it is necessary.

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.

Also carry a photocopy of your passport when you 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.

The attorney that originally wrote this had his wallet stolen. 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:

7. Call any one of the national credit reporting organizations, Experian, Trans Union, or Equifax immediately to place a fraud alert on your name. By placing a temporary fraud alert on one of your credit reports, you have effectively notified all three bureaus as the one that you have notified is required to notify the others as well. You should also call the Social Security Fraud Department. 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.

If you have had problems with fraud or identity theft, or have questions, feel free to contact us.

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