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Posts Tagged ‘identity theft’

FALSE ALARM: PROTECTING YOUR EMPLOYEES AGAINST IDENTITY THEFT

One of the ways I help my clients is by assisting them in creating “low cost/no cost” employee benefits. This month’s article is one such benefit. It is one you may very well want to forward to every member of your organization as well as your clients and customers. It concerns a 21st Century plague—identity theft.

We’ve all heard horror stories about fraud that’s committed when names, addresses, Social Security numbers, or credit cards are stolen.

According to the Federal Trade Commission, in 2004, approximately 10 million Americans were victims of identity theft. Victims spend an average of $1,500 and 175 hours to recover. The victim’s losses totaled $5 billion. The total cost to all Americans was roughly $50 billion.

Add lost time from work and a loss of productivity to this awful mix and you have an issue that most definitely warrants the attention of your organization

Much of the following content comes from a memo a corporate attorney recently sent the employees in his company:

Eight Ways to Combat Identity Theft

1. The next time you order checks have only your initials (instead of your first name) and last name put on them. If someone takes your check, they will not know if you sign your checks with just your initials or your first name. Your bank, however, will know how you sign your checks.

2. Do not sign the back of your credit cards. Instead, put “PHOTO ID REQUIRED .” Note: The US post office is an exception. If the clerk is paying attention, they will not accept a credit card that has no signature and they will not accept a credit card that has “Photo ID Required” or similar language.

3. When you are writing checks to credit card companies,DO NOTput the complete account number on the “For” line. Write only the last four numbers. The credit card company knows the rest of the numbers. Anyone handling your check as it passes through all the check processing channels will be denied access to your credit card number.

4. Put your work phone number on your checks instead of your home phone. If you have a PO box, use that instead of your home address. If you do not have a PO box, use your work 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 who sees your checks has access to it.

5. Place the contents of your wallet on a photocopy machine. Copy both sides of your license, credit card, etc. If your wallet is stolen you will know the contents and have a record of the account numbers and phone numbers to call and cancel. Keep the photocopy in a safe place. You can also create a photocopy of your passport.

6. We have been told we should cancel our credit cards immediately if we learn of unauthorized use. On the credit card is the toll free number to call to report illegal activity. Do not destroy the cards until you have those numbers. If for some reason you don’t have access to the cards, the phone numbers are also on your statements.

7. File a police report immediately in the jurisdiction where your credit cards, etc. were stolen. This proves to credit providers you were diligent, and this is a first step toward an investigation (if there ever is one).

8. Call the three national credit-reporting organizations immediately to place fraud alerts on your name and Social Security number. The alert means any company that checks your credit knows your information was stolen, and they have to contact you by phone to authorize new credit.

Here are the numbers you will need to contact if your wallet, checkbook, etc. (i.e. your identity) have been stolen:

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

For additional information on identity theft go to www.consumer.gov/idtheft/

Identity theft may be here to stay but that does not mean we have to sit idly by and be victimized. Sharing
information and acting proactively can go a long way to insuring that the next victims of identity theft
will not be your coworkers or your employees.

CTS Consulting, Inc

3126 Berkshire Road

Baltimore, Maryland 21214

phone 410-444-5857

cell 443-286-2488