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Protecting yourself from
Credit Card thieves

There are some things we all know we should do. Whether or not we do them is a completely different story. For example: You know to watch your wallet or purse while shopping. Never set your wallet or purchases down. Don't leave your wallet or purse on the front seat of the car when you run in to the gas station attendant or the house for something you forgot. We also know not to give out certain information over the phone or to strangers.

And yet, somehow, we are still getting ripped off. Thieves are still finding ways to get hold of our credit cards. The devastation of being robbed is nothing compared to the painful process of trying to "make things right" after the theft is discovered.

Here are a few tips that will help make things a little easier.

  • Keep a photocopy of your credit cards, drivers license, social security cards and other important documents in a safe place, separate from the originals. If you have no way of making a photocopy (the local library usually has a machine costing about five cents a copy) be sure and write down every bit of information on the card. This includes the issuing banks name, the exact way your name is listed, the account number, expiration date, phone numbers… everything.
  • Have a list of all of the toll free numbers of the cards handy to report your cards stolen. Do not hesitate to call. The sooner you place the credit card companies on notice the sooner the thieves will be stopped.
  • File a police report in the jurisdiction they were stolen. If you are not sure when or where they were stolen file the report in your own jurisdiction.
  • There are three major national credit reporting organizations. Notify them at once that there has been a theft. Once they have been alerted to the theft and potential fraud they will "flag" your account with that information. This means that any company that checks your credit will know that this has happened. No new credit can be authorized without your consent. Any company that attempts to issue new credit to you will know your circumstances and new fraud, in your name, can be avoided.

The three major national credit reporting organizations are:

  • Equifax 1-800-525-6285
  • Experian 1-800-301-7195 (formerly TRW)
  • Trans Union 1-800-680-7289

This information can save you a lot of headaches and hassles. Keep these numbers, as well as your personal account information, somewhere you can reach them if needed. It may not take away the nightmare of a robbery, but it can lessen it's pain.

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