all heard horror stories about the fraud that's committed using
your name, address, social security number, credit cards, etc.
Unfortunately, I have first hand knowledge of this horror story
because my wallet was stolen last month. Within a week the thief
ordered an expensive monthly cell phone package, applied for
a VISA credit card, had a credit line approved to buy a Gateway
computer, received a PIN number from DMV to change my driving
record information online, and more.
some critical information to limit the damage in case this happens
to you or someone you know. As everyone always advises, cancel
your credit cards immediately, but the key is having the toll
free numbers and your card numbers handy so you know whom to
call. Keep those where you can easily find them without having
to hunt for them. You don't need the additional stress
nor will your memory serve you well under stress so make it
easy on yourself by having them in an easy-to-remember spot!
On a personal note, I remember losing a Master Card awhile back
and until I got the toll free number from information, etc.
I was a wreck.
file a police report immediately in the jurisdiction where it
was stolen. Do not wait until you get home. This proves to credit
providers you were diligent, and is a first step toward an investigation
(if there ever is one). But here's what is perhaps most
important: call the 3 national credit reporting organizations
immediately to place a fraud alert on your name and Social Security
#. I learned the hard way when a bank called to tell me an application
for credit was made over the Internet in my name.
alert means any company that checks your credit knows your information
was stolen and has 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. FYI: There
are records of all the credit checks initiated by the thieves'
purchases, none of which I knew about before placing the alert.
then, no additional damage has been done. The thieves threw
my wallet away a good samaritan turned it in sans credit cards
most important thing to remember is to take immediate action.
Do not wait until you get home or to the office. Use your cell
phone or go to a pay phone and make these calls immediately.
A lot of damage can be done in the time you wait.
all of these numbers to report the theft or loss of credit card:
Equifax 1-888-766-0008, Experian
(formerly TRW) 1-888-397-3742, Trans
Union 1-800-888-4213; the Social
Security Administration also has a fraud line at 1-800-269-0271
if you think you've been a victim of identity theft.