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Good information to know

This week I'm passing along some good information to know about your personal checks, and lost or stolen credit cards.

The next time you order checks, have only your initials (instead of your first and last name) put on them.

By so doing, if someone takes your checkbook they will not know if you sign your checks with just your initials or your full name, but your bank will know how you sign your checks.

It is not necessary to put a phone number on your checks, but if you use a number, put your work phone instead of your home phone number.

These days someone can easily obtain your home address and a map to your house from the internet if you have a listed phone number.

If you have a post office box, use that instead of your home address.

If you do not have a post office box, use your work address.

Never have your Social Security number printed on checks, you can add it if necessary.

When it's printed, anyone can get it.

Place the contents of your wallet on a photocopy machine; copy both sides of each of your credit cards, driver's license, etc.

You will know what you had in your wallet and all of the account numbers and phone numbers to call and cancel cards if lost or stolen.

Keep the photocopy in a safe place.

Also, carry a photocopy of your passport when traveling either here or abroad.

We have been told in the past that when our credit cards are stolen we should cancel them immediately.

The key is having the toll free numbers and your account numbers handy so you know where to call.

Keep them where you can find them easily.

File a police report immediately in the jurisdiction where it was stolen.

This proves to credit providers that you were diligent, and it is also a first step toward an investigation (if there is one).

Most importantly, call the three national credit reporting organizations immediately to place a fraud alert 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.

The numbers for the Credit Organizations are: Equifax: 1-800-685-1111, www.equifax.com; Experian, 1-888-EXPERIAN (397-3742), www.experian.com; Trans Union, 1-800-916-8800, www.transunion.com; Social Security Administration (fraud line):

1-800-269-0271.