Tuesday, July 05, 2005

Identity Theft

Everytime I sell a home and do an "Offer to Purchase" contract I have to have the buyers fill out a Statement of Information for Escrow and The Title Co. It includes social security numbers and driver's licence numbers, addresses etc. I have to get their permission in writing to release this vital information to a designated lender also. This is to protect their identity and eventually give them "clear title" to that property. Now days there is such a fear of "identity theft" and it even pertains to blog writing in a way. Part of the "thrill" for internet staulkers and predators is the "hunt" and the investigative research that they do to find their eventual victims.

Here then are some suggestions recently gathered from local newspapers/articles that I have been collecting:
1. The next time you order checks printed, have only your initials (instead of your first name) and last name put on them. If someone "finds" or takes your checkbook, they will not know if you sign your name with just initials or first name but your bank will know.
2. Do not sign the back of your credit cards. Instead put "Photo I.D. Required."
3. When writing a check to pay on your credit card accts. don't put the complete number on the "for" line...just the last four numbers. Anyone handling it then can't have your number.
4. Put your work phone number on your checks not your home number. Use a P.O.Box if you have one or your work address.
5. Put the contents of your wallet on a photocopy machine, both sides of cards. You will know what you had in your wallet so you can call and cancel them. Keep that copy in a safe place.
6. Carry a photocopy of your passport when traveling. Keep it separate.
7. Have the toll free numbers and card numbers handy so you know whom to call. Keep safe.
8. File a police report immediately in the city where they were taken.
9. Call the three national credit reporting organizations immediately to place a fraud alert on your name and S.S. #. Then any new applications for credit in your name, say on the internet, have to be authorized by you on the phone. Here are the numbers you need: Equifax: 1(800)525-6285 Experian: 1(888)397-3742 Trans Union: 1(800)680-7289 Social Security Administration (fraud line): 1(800)269-0271.

Of course this assumes you write checks and carry a wallet for I.D. etc. I guess another way to avoid "identity theft" is...don't carry your I.D. around with you or...don't go anywhere by car or buy anything on credit. That would be a real challenge now days wouldn't it? Bob


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