If you experience a theft:
By Diana from Prospect, KY
Preventing Identity Theft
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Unfortunately, my parents were mugged in their OWN DRIVEWAY back in January. They were not seriously hurt, thank God. The biggest lessons my sisters and I learned were these: If you only use your checkbook once or twice a month when you pay your bills, DON'T keep it in your purse.
Only keep the necessary cards in your wallet. If you only shop with your mall store cards a couple of times a year, keep them in a separate wallet at home. Keep a list of what you have in your purse of any importance and any needed acct numbers and phone numbers.
Don't carry items of huge sentimental value with you, like your only photo of someone special. And most important: DO NOT carry your address book with you along with the extra keys to all your kids houses! We all had to replace the locks on our doors. My parents had never been victims of any kind before and live in a nice neighborhood.
They never thought they had reason to worry. It was a cold, rainy night and they had gone out to dinner for my Dad's 70th birthday. The police think they were followed home from the area around the restaurant. They did catch the three thugs and they are currently in the county jail awaiting their court date.
Please remember to be aware of your surroundings.
Check with your credit card company before you sign anything but your name on the back. I used to work for a bank and was told that if you do not sign your name then it invalidates the card. Meaning if you need to use one of the credit cards fraud guarantees or whatever guarantee they might have they won't honor it if your signature is not on the card.
There is NO POINT in even signing the credit card or writing "check ID". These merchants don't care if someone's ID is stolen or a thief rakes up charges on my accounts. They'll make it up by uping the prices on everythng and we'll all pay in the longrun. Every time I pull out my card and they don't ask for ID I get angry. Every time we charge we should all insist that they ask for our ID; mayble they would get the hint.
I work in a bank and I always suggest to my clients that they sign their cards and put check id underneath. If someone steals your card and signs it, they can then have a fake id made with a matching signature. Professional id thieves do it all the time.
#1 may not always work, depending on where you are. I remember seeing a sign somewhere that said a credit card with "CID" on it would NOT be accepted.
I have never even signed the back of my card. The ONLY place I ever had someone ask for ID or look at the back is at the post office. I have used my card for over 5 years and had it checked only that time.
Sort of scary!
Your tip: Do not sign the back of your credit card, instead put "PHOTO ID REQUIRED" is a good one. I have that on the back of my Visa and was advised by a police officer to do that very thing after my wallet was stolen. My wallet unfortunately was stolen right out of my purse at a restaurant. I learned the hard way not to hang your purse on the back of your chair! Anyway, while we were still enjoying dinner, the crook was right away charging on my Visa card!! Luckily Chase cut them off but not till they had charged $2,500 none of which we were liable for. Too many places now don't even check signatures on credit cards and how many times do we just swipe the card. Anyway, it is still a good idea not to sign your credit cards and just write in "Check photo ID" or something like that.
These tips are the best, most practical ways to protect yourself from the misery of Identity Theft. Thanks!
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