Personal Financial Security Advice

The next time you order checks you may want to 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.

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.

Use another phone number on your checks instead of your home phone. If you have a P.O. Box, use that instead of your home address. Never have your Social Security number printed on your checks. You can add it if it is necessary. But if you have it printed, anyone can get it.

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.

If your wallet is ever lost or stolen here is some critical information to limit the damage:

Cancel your credit cards immediately. Have the toll free numbers and your card numbers handy so you know whom to call. Keep those where you can find them.

File a police report immediately in the jurisdiction where it was lost or stolen, this proves to credit providers you were diligent, and is a first step toward an investigation.

Call the three national credit reporting organizations immediately to place a fraud alert on your name and Social Security number.

The numbers are:

Equifax: 1-800-525-6285

Experian (formerly TRW): 1-888-397-3742

Trans Union: 1-800-680-7289

Social Security Administration (fraud line): 1-800-269-0271