About Me

In writing the "About Me" portion of this blog I thought about the purpose of the blog - namely, preventing the growth of Socialism & stopping the Death Of Democracy in the American Republic & returning her to the "liberty to abundance" stage of our history. One word descriptions of people's philosophies or purposes are quite often inadequate. I feel that I am "liberal" meaning that I am broad minded, independent, generous, hospitable, & magnanimous. Under these terms "liberal" is a perfectly good word that has been corrupted over the years to mean the person is a left-winger or as Mark Levin more accurately wrote in his book "Liberty & Tyranny" a "statist" - someone looking for government or state control of society. I am certainly not that & have dedicated the blog to fighting this. I believe that I find what I am when I consider whether or not I am a "conservative" & specifically when I ask what is it that I am trying to conserve? It is the libertarian principles that America was founded upon & originally followed. That is the Return To Excellence that this blog is named for & is all about.

Monday, March 3, 2014

Protecting Against Credit Card Fraud & Identity Theft

Thanks to a long time reader of RTE for sending a version of free advice that started circulating on the internet in January 2002 regarding how to protect against credit card fraud & identity theft.  I posted two of the versions – one in 2006 & the other in 2007.
All of these messages contain common sense prudent steps to take to avoid fraud being committed against you.  In this post I combine the best points below from all of the versions I am aware of including some points from the 2007 post regarding medical ID theft – none of the other internet versions included this because it was presented by a member of the e-mail club that preceded RTE. 
With regard to the points in the write up about making copies of the contents of your wallet – this list has to be safeguarded just like your wallet.  Although it is important especially if you are miles from home to have this information handy another problem can arise if this list is itself stolen – think ahead to determine what to do in that event.
Over the years I have followed some of the points from the previous versions & give myself a passing grade although not an "A".  I am going to make a real effort to do all of them - not just some.  In this case I know I will because Carol told me she will organize the information so we have it if we ever need it – heaven forbid.
Medical ID Theft
As these reports indicate the first thing most people do when their wallet is lost or stolen is to call their credit card companies.  But if health-care ID or pharmacy cards are among the missing items, you should also alert your medical insurer.  Medical ID theft is on the rise with @ least half a million people affected.  The WSJ documents one man who racked up $144,000 in medical bills in five hospitals before he was caught as a medical ID thief. 
But even a bigger problem than erroneous bills is that victims of medical ID theft can receive the wrong medical treatment based on fraudulent information in their medical record - e.g., you are allergic to penicillin & the imposter wasn't.  In addition, medical ID theft can cause victims to fail pre-employment medical exams or become uninsurable (before ObamaCare).
At a broader level, healthcare fraud leads to higher insurance premiums, higher taxes, & higher co-payments.
Credit Card Fraud & Identity Theft
1.  Do not sign the back of your credit cards.  Instead, put 'PHOTO ID REQUIRED.'
2.  When writing checks to pay your credit card accounts, do not put any information on the memo field of the check including the last four numbers of your account.  The pre-printed slip you detach & return with your check is all the credit card company needs to credit your account.  Anyone who might be handling your check as it passes through all the check processing channels won't have access to any account information that could cause you trouble.
3.  Do not print your work phone # or your home # on your checks – if a telephone # is ever required for a particular transaction you can write it on the check for that particular instance.  If you have a PO Box use that instead of your home address on the checks.  If you do not have a PO Box, use your work address.  Never have your SS# printed on your checks. You can add it if it is necessary.  But if you have it printed, anyone can get it.
4.  When you check out of a hotel that uses cards for keys (and they all seem to do that now), do not turn the "keys" in.  Take them with you and destroy them. Those little cards have on them all of the information you gave the hotel, including address and credit card numbers and expiration dates. Someone with a card reader, or employee of the hotel, can access all that information with no problem whatsoever.  I heard this tip on the Neal Boortz radio program several years ago & have followed it ever since.
4.  Place the contents of your wallet on a photocopy machine.  Copy 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 & take it with you when you travel.  Losing your wallet while away from home could be trouble that leaves you helpless.
Some people also carry a photocopy of their passport when they travel either here or abroad.  We've all heard horror stories about fraud that's committed on us in stealing a name, address, Social Security number, or credit cards.  In case your luggage is lost, take another list in your carryon bag, especially if you are abroad and need immediate access to those numbers.
Thieves work quickly.  Examples include ordering an expensive monthly cell phone package, applying for a VISA credit card, having a credit line approved to buy a computer, receiving a PIN number from DMV to change the owner's driving record information online, applying for credit over the Internet in your name, & more.
But here's some critical information to limit the damage in case this happens to you or someone you know:
5.  We have been told we should cancel our 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 find them.
6.  File a police report immediately in the jurisdiction where your credit cards, etc, were stolen.  This proves to credit providers you were diligent, & this is a first step toward an investigation (if there ever is one).
But here's what is perhaps most important of all: (many people never even think to do this.)
7.  Call the 3 national credit reporting organizations immediately to place a fraud alert on your name and also call the Federal Trade Commission, the nation's consumer protection agency.  The fraud 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.  This step looms large in stopping many criminals.
Here are the numbers you always need to contact if your wallet has been stolen:
1.) Equifax: 1-800-525-6285
2.) Experian (formerly TRW): 1-888-397-3742
3.) Trans Union: 1-800-680 7289 1-800-680 7289
4.) Federal Trade Commission (FTC) – 1-877-438-4338
This post gives you a good start – use it as you see fit for your particular situation. To learn more click here to read a Snopes report which in turn contains additional helpful links. 


  1. Is this all moot now? The gov't has access to everything (emails, phone calls, medical records if you are on an exchange) and no credible safeguards in place. Hackers have said it is remarkably easy to get into ObamaCare now.

    1. With hackers being able to get your information easily through ObamaCare website you need the fraud alert & other points more than ever.


  3. Thanks for above, have forwarded on to others - already received positive comments.

  4. Thanks so much for this Doug! Thanks for breaking this down for us. I will start to organize right away and I will forward to all friends and family.