The Estate Planning and Elder Law Firm, PC
2200 Clarendon Boulevard
Arlington, VA 22201
Protect Yourself From Identity Theft
With identity theft becoming a growing problem, there are things each of us can do to minimize the possibility of identity theft, or effectively deal with it if it happens. You can help protect yourself against identity theft by following these tips.
Credit cards Do not sign the back of your credit cards; instead, write “Photo ID Required”. Next, when you are writing checks to pay your credit card bills, do not put the complete account number on the memo. Doing this will prevent anyone who might be handling your check as it passes through all the check processing channels from having access to your account.
Checks If you want to put a telephone number on your checks, use your work telephone number instead of your home telephone number. If you have a post office box, use that address on your checks instead of your home address. Never have your social security number printed on your checks.
Wallet Photocopy the contents of your wallet. Copy both sides of each document in your wallet, including drivers license, other identification cards, and credit cards. This will permit you to know what you had in your wallet, including account numbers, so that you know what account holders need to be notified in case your wallet is lost or stolen.
Other tips to avoid identity theft
Do not carry your social security card with you; keep it in a safe place
Do not attach a personal identification number (PIN) or social security number (SSN) to any card that you carry with you, or on any receipt or paper that you are going to throw away
Shred any document that contains a PIN, SSN, or account number before you throw it away
Alert your card issuer if you do not receive your statement; someone may be stealing your mail
Do not give your personal information to anyone until you have confirmed the identity of the person and verified that you need to provide the information
Check your credit reports on a regular basis
Put passwords on your accounts, but do not use something easily available such as your mothers maiden name or your birth date
If your wallet or credit cards are lost or stolen, or if you suspect identity theft, then you should notify the credit card issuers immediately. If you think your mail was stolen, then contact the U.S. Postal Service. You should also phone the Social Security Administrations (SSA) fraud line at 800-269-0271 to notify the SSA that someone may be using your social security number.
You should also notify the credit reporting agencies to place a fraud or identity theft alert on your accounts. This is important because thieves may apply for credit in your name over the Internet. This alert will tell any company that is checking your credit in order to issue new credit in your name that your information was stolen. They will have to contact you by telephone to authorize new credit.
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