THE 8 IMPORTANT THINGS YOU CAN DO TO PROTECT YOUR CREDIT – ESPECIALLY IF YOU TRAVEL
From time to time, I travel both within the United States as well as out of country to Mexico and other points of interest. With the economy in the state it is in, I have seen a rise in the number of “muggings” or thefts that have transpired in terms of people stealing wallets, purses, etc. Hopefully, you will never experience this type of theft; however, be prepared because it isn’t true that things like this only happen to somebody else. These are some suggestions of things that you should do to safe-guard yourself against such a crime. Please don’t try to be a hero and thwart the crime. Quite frankly, your life is not worth the contents in your purse or wallet!
- Signing the Back of Your Credit Cards – I know that the credit card companies require your signature on the back of your card and I also know that a lot of merchants never ask to see your identification when you are making a purchase; however, if you add CDI or ASK FOR ID following your signature, you are at least taking a step to try to force the merchant to request identification from you to prove that you are the rightful person to be using the credit or bank card.
Account Numbers – If you use a check to pay your bills, never ever put the entire account number on the reference or “For” line. Use only the last four digits of your account number. Your creditor knows what your account information is and can easily access the proper account using your name and those four numbers.
- Photocopy Everything – Take all of the contents out of your wallet, billfold, travel portfolio or purse and photocopy them front and back.
BUSINESS CARDS – If you’re like me, you collect business cards from potential clients, your colleagues, etc. I’m sure some of these numbers have never made it to your on-line or personal address book. And, I’m also pretty certain that they are numbers and/or information that would be difficult, if not impossible to replace.
DRIVER’S LICENSE & SOCIAL SECURITY CARD – I know this may sound a little odd; however, if you are traveling out of country and your belongings are stolen, a copy of your driver’s license and passport are going to be essential tools to get a passport reissued so you can return home. Additionally, if you have all of this information stolen and you are at home, this will aid in replacing your driver’s license in proof that you are who you say you are.
PASSPORT – Again, this may come in very handy when you’re trying to prove your identity. All of this may be a little time consuming; however, in the long run, this will become a very handy tool. Once you have photocopied everything or scanned it and turned the document into a PDF file, you should keep this information in a safe place or in more than one safe place such as a safety deposit box or a fire-proof box at home. You could also put it in a password protected file on your computer that only you know the password to. If you don’t want the files on your computer, you could save them to a CD.
- WHAT TO DO IF YOU ARE A VICTIM
Contact Each of the Three Credit Reporting Agencies – Contacting each of the three major credit reporting agencies will aid in stopping someone from using your information to commit identity theft. When you call them, ask that they put a Fraud Alert on your account. This will pop up should anyone attempt to secure credit in your name. It may cause you some extra time should you be applying for credit for yourself; however, in the long run, it will prevent someone else from further victimizing you. Below are the telephone numbers for each of the major credit reporting agencies:
TRANS UNION – 1-800-680-7289
Contact the Social Security Administration – And last but not least, contact the Social Security Administration Fraud Department. This will also protect you should someone try to use your Social Security Number for employment purposes. Here is their number:
SOCIAL SECURITY ADMINISTRATION (FRAUD HOTLINE) – 1-800-269-0271
Again, I hope you are never victimized in this or any other fashion; however, if you do the things suggested here, you may be able to protect yourself better in that situation.