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Helpful Tips to Prevent Identity Theft

What to Do if You Become a Victim

June 13, 2011

Identity Theft is the fastest growing crime in America.  Identity theft occurs when someone takes your personal information without your knowledge and uses that information to commit fraud or theft.  The following steps will help avoid becoming a victim of identity theft:

  • Omit your first name from checks and have only your initials and last name put on them. If your checkbook is stolen, the perpetrator 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 check. Instead, just put the last four numbers. The credit card company knows the rest of the number and anyone who might be handling your check as it passes through the check processing channels won't have access to it.
  • Put your work phone number on your checks instead of your home phone. If you have a P.O. Box, then 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.
  • Photocopy the contents of your wallet. Photocopy both sides of each license, credit card, etc.  This way you will have a record of what you had in your wallet and all of the account numbers and phone numbers to call and cancel if you need to.
  • Personal Identification Numbers (PIN) and Passwords should be unique.  Avoid using your Social Security number, your date of birth, or your mother’s maiden name, as this information is easily attainable.  Avoid carrying this information with you. 
  • Protect your Personal Identification Numbers and computer passwords; use a combination of letters and numbers and change them often.  Avoid carrying this information with you.                            
  • Shred receipts, old bank statements and unused credit card offers before throwing them away.  Use a cross-cut or pulp shredder, not a strip-cut model.
  • Review your bank and credit card statements as soon as you receive them to check for unauthorized transactions.  
  • Order copies of your credit report from each of the major credit bureaus once a year to insure accuracy. 
  • Report any suspected fraud to your bank and credit card issuers immediately so they can start to close accounts and clear your name right away.  You may also contact the Federal Trade Commission’s ID Theft hotline toll-free at 1-877-IDTHEFT (1-877-438-4338) or online at  You should request that a fraud alert be placed on your credit report file with each of the credit reporting agencies listed below.

If you do become a victim of identity fraud, here are some steps that you can take to minimize the damage:

  • File a police report immediately.  Make numerous copies.
  • Call all three (3) national credit reporting organizations immediately and instruct them to place a fraud alert on your name and Social Security number.  The alert will notify any company that checks your credit that your information was stolen and they have to contact you by phone to authorize new credit.


Credit Reporting Agency

To request a copy of your credit report

To place a fraud alert on your credit report







Trans Union




For more information, please contact:
Nicholas G. Himonidis, J.D., CFE, CCFS
Vice President, Private Investigations
Phone: 646.445.7800