This is a very logical thing to do yet how many of us have actually thought to do it? Place the contents of your wallet on a photocopy machine, make a copy then flip over each license, credit card, passport, etc and make another copy. You will know what you had in your wallet and all of the account numbers and phone numbers to call and cancel if needed. Keep the photocopy in a safe place. Take a copy of your passport separately when travelling abroad.

   A corporate attorney sent the following out to the employees in his company. We've all heard horror stories about fraud that's committed using your name, address, SS#, credit, etc. Unfortunately I (the author of this piece who happens to be an attorney) have firsthand knowledge, because my wallet was stolen last month and within a week the thieve(s) ordered an expensive monthly cell phone package, applied for a VISA credit card, had a credit line approved to buy a Gateway computer, received a PIN number from DMV to change my driving record information online, and more. But here's some critical information to limit the damage in case this happens to you or someone you know.

   As everyone always advises, cancel your 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 easily. File a police report immediately in the jurisdiction where it was stolen, this proves to credit providers you were diligent, and is a first step toward an investigation. But here's what is perhaps most important: (I never ever thought to do this).

   Call the three national credit reporting organizations immediately to place a fraud alert on your name and SS#. I had never heard of doing that until advised by a bank that called to tell me an application for credit was made over the Internet in my name. 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.

   By the time I was advised to do this, almost 2 weeks after the theft, all the damage had been done. There are records of all the credit checks initiated by the thieves' purchases, none of which I knew about before placing the alert. Since then, no additional damage has been done, and the thieves threw my wallet away this weekend (someone turned it in). It seems to have stopped them in their tracks.

   The numbers are: 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; We pass along jokes; we pass along just about everything. Do think about passing this information along. It could really help someone!

Sent to us by one of your fellow bridge visitors.

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