Monday, September 7, 2009


My writer's imagination sometimes gets the best of me, especially when I receive an e-mail like this from a fellow writer.

Marilyn wrote: "I lost my purse on the UK Campus this morning. I have been mostly on hold all afternoon and managed to get 1 credit card cancelled. My last check book was in the purse. I have no checks, no cash, no credit cards, no driver's license, no insurance card. My whole life was in there. So if anyone wants anything, it will just have to wait a while - until I exist again."

After I read of Marilyn's crisis, I got the following e-mail from an attorney which I thought was helpful:

1.... Do not sign the back of your credit cards.Instead, put 'PHOTO ID REQUIRED.'

2. When you are writing checks to pay on your creditcard accounts, DO NOT put the complete account number onthe 'For' line. Instead, just put the last four numbers.The credit card company knows the rest of the number, andanyone who might be handling your check as it passes throughall the check processing channels won't have access to it.

3. Put your work phone # on your checks instead ofyour home phone. If you have a PO Box use that instead ofyour home address. If you do not have a PO Box, use yourwork address. Never have your SS# printed on your checks.(DUH!) You can add it if it is necessary. But if you have Itprinted, anyone can get it.

4. Place the contents of your wallet on a photocopymachine. Do both sides of each license, credit card, etc.You will know what you had in your wallet and all of theaccount numbers and phone numbers to call and cancel....Keep the photocopy in a safe place.

I also carry a photocopy of my passport when Itravel either here or abroad. We've all heard horror storiesabout fraud that's committed on us in stealing a Name,address, Social Security number, credit cards.

Unfortunately, I, an attorney, have first handknowledge because my wallet was stolen last month... Withina week, the thieves ordered an expensive monthly cell phonepackage, applied for a VISA credit card, had a credit lineapproved to buy a Gateway computer, received a PIN numberfrom DMV to change my driving record information online, andmore.

But here's some critical information to limit thedamage in case this happens to you or someone you know:

5. We have been told we should cancel our creditcards immediately. But the key is having the toll freenumbers and your card numbers handy so you know whom tocall. Keep those where you can find them.

6. File a police report immediately in thejurisdiction where your credit cards, etc., were stolen.This proves to credit providers you were diligent, and thisis a first step toward an investigation (if there ever isone).

But here's what is perhaps most important of all:(I never even thought to do this.)

7. Call the 3 national credit reportingorganizations immediately to place a fraud alert on yourname and also call the Social Security fraud line number. Ihad never heard of doing that until advised by a bank thatcalled to tell me an application for credit was made overthe internet in my name.

The alert means any company that checks your creditknows your information was stolen, and they have to contactyou by phone to authorize new credit.

By the time I was advised to do this, almost twoweeks after the theft, all the damage had been done. Thereare records of all the credit checks initiated by thethieves' purchases, none of which I knew about beforeplacing the alert. Since then, no additional damage has beendone, and the thieves threw my wallet away this weekend(someone turned it in). It seems to have stopped them deadin their tracks..

Now, here are the numbers you always need to contact about your wallet, if it has been stolen:

1.) Equifax: 1-800-525-6285
2.) Experian (formerly TRW): 1-888-397-3742
3.) Trans Union : 1-800-680 7289
4.) Social Security Administration (fraud line): 1-800-269-0271

Now back to the subject of writing, I'm challenging myself to write my next book--at least the skeleton of it--in 30 days. I bought a book on the subject and will keep you posted on my progress. Comments? suggestions?


  1. Very good advice. Thanks for posting it. And welcome to the world of blogging. It can be fun, and you can meet a lot of neat people via links and comments. I've made some pretty good online friends through my blog.

  2. Thanks, Maryann. I resisted blogging for the longest time, thinking I didn't have the time, but now I see it's an important marketing and informational tool. I'll check out your blog.

  3. Thanks for posting this--I have copied it and sent it to my husband also.
    Sarah Wisseman (new Wings book coming in October!)

  4. Thanks for reading my blog, Sarah. I hope it was helpful. Please revisit this site, sign in and click "follow." Then all of my new post will be sent to your e-mail address. If you'd like to try this method of writing a book. I'd like to hear about your progress. I work full-time, and I may not get the detailed outline--first draft--in 30 days, but I'll work steadily on it and see what happens. Good luck with your writing.


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