A corporate attorney sent the following out to the employees in
his company.

1. The next time you order checks have only your initials
(instead of first name) and last name put on them. If someone takes
your checkbook, they will not know if you sign your checks with just
your initials or your first name, but your bank will know how you sign
your checks.

2. Do not sign the back of your credit cards.
Instead, put "PHOTO ID REQUIRED."

3. 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. The 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 will not have access
to it.

4. Put your work phone # on your checks instead of your home
phone. If you have a PO Box, use that instead of your home address. If
you do not have a PO Box, use your work address. Never have your SS#
printed on your checks, (DUH!). You can add it if it is necessary.
However, if you have it printed, anyone can get it.

5. 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 traveling either here or abroad. We
have all heard horror stories about fraud that is committed on us in
stealing a name, address, Social Security number, credit cards.

6. When you check out of a hotel that uses cards for keys (and
they all seem to do that now), do not turn the "keys" in. Take them with
you and destroy them. Those little cards have on them all of the
information you gave the hotel, including address and credit card
numbers and expiration dates. Someone with a card reader, or employee
of the hotel, can access all that information with no problem

Unfortunately, as an attorney, I have first hand knowledge
because my wallet was stolen last month. 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
and received a PIN number from DMV to change my driving record
information online. Here is some critical information to limit the
damage in case this happens to you or someone you know:

1. We have been told we should cancel our credit cards
immediately. 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

2. 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). However, here is what is perhaps most important of
all (I never even thought to do this.)

3. Call the three national credit reporting organizations
immediately to place a fraud alert on your name and Social Security
number. 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. By the time I was advised to do this, almost two
weeks after the theft, all the damage had been done. There are records
of all the credit checks initiated by the thieves' purchases,! none of
which I knew about before placing the alert. Since then, no additional
damage has been done, and the thieves threw my wallet away this weekend
(someone turned it in). It seems to have stopped them dead in their

Now, here are the numbers you always need to contact about your
wallet and contents being stolen:

1.) Equifax: 1-800-525-6285
2.) Experian (formerly TRW): 1-888-397-3742
3.) TransUnion: 1-800-680-7289
4.) Social Security Administration (fraud line): 1-800-269-0271