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What steps have you taken to avoid identity theft?

Asked at Massachusetts Street on November 9, 2004

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Photo of Derek Ishmael

“I plan on buying a paper shredder, and I don’t use my Social Security number on my driver’s license.”

Photo of Kevin Terk

“I don’t carry credit cards, because they just aren’t worth the trouble or the risk of someone else using them.”

Photo of Vu Phan

“I don’t know why anyone would want to steal my identity. I don’t have any money, so it would be their loss.”

Photo of Jason Carpenter

“I don’t carry my Social Security card, and I’ve taken the number off of everything.”


Redneckgal 13 years, 3 months ago

If someone stole my identity I think the joke would probably be on them. It wouldn't buy 'em much.

italianprincess 13 years, 3 months ago

I play it safe myself.

I don't carry my families social cards with me anywhere.

I don't own any credit cards, I pay with cash.

I use money orders when needed because I don't want a checking account.

I have only basic phone service ( no long distance so no one can rack up my bill ). I use a phone card when I need to make a long distance phone call.

My drivers lisence does not reflect my SS number.

Did I forget anything??????? I think I have covered all the basics here and feel pretty safe.

badger 13 years, 3 months ago

On topic, I keep my SSN, my birthdate, and my mother's maiden name to myself. I opted out the first year you could on taking the SSN off the driver's license. When I carry credit cards, I sign them and write 'See ID' on the back. I tear up bills once they're paid.

Also, it's amazing what information someone can get out of you by calling you up and pretending to be Lawrence Utility Billing, Aquila Energy, or Sunflower Cable. Always ask people claiming to be the utility or water company for a callback number, and password protect your accounts with them. I had someone as a nuisance call up and turn off my water every week for a month, so now there's a password to access or change any of my account information.

Hi_Jinks 13 years, 3 months ago

I think that Vu Phan's answer is a riot!

Original_Bob....since there's no shortage of computers in this world, I'm more than sure that Hoofy will just keep coming back, again and again. He'll just use a different computer with a different number and he'll keep coming up with different names/monikers.

P.S. Has anyone ever noticed that even now in 2004 many places still ask for your SS# when you apply for a job? I would think that it is only necessary to give any employer your SS# ONCE YOU'VE BEEN HIRED! Yet, it has always amused me that on most employment applications, there's a space to put down your SS#. As far as I'm concerned, that kind of info is none of any employers business, unless and until he or she says, "You're hired."---Then, and only then, would I give out my SS#. I don't know how the rest of you feel about that one.

PigFarmer 13 years, 3 months ago

Did Hoofy/Hugh get throw off because of just calling someone a dweeb or whatever kick he was on yesterday or because they thought hugh was hoofy.

Personally the name calling done yesterday was something I would not let bother me and would ignore. I only bee on this forum for about a week, but if someone is so thin skinned that that name bothered them, don't go to LJWorld readers reaction. That will really offend you. They get in the gutter and can be offensive, still people should consider the source and not get so uptight.

I spell terribly and type worse- sorry. My career was in computers where we spell everything wrong to keep it short and so no one knows what we are talking about using lots of acronyms.

Actually I found hugh entertaining and never seen anything from hoofy. I have a weird sense of humor and life is serious enough that I like to take a break from all the serious world problems.

mrcairo 13 years, 3 months ago

Had my identity stolen a few years back. I knew the person who did it, and the company she worked for, and Id'd the person to the cops. Since she stole less than $5000.00, they really didn't care. The credit card security folks didn't care either. They took care of the charges to the card, but didn't want to press charges.

Thing is, the chick was doing this left and right, to not only me but friends of mine, and was getting away with it.

Now I'm very careful with names, I never use my mothers name in fact, every transaction has a different name and I keep track of that, so if anything does happen I can point back to where the theft occured, so the Police can write it off and go get another donut.

By the way, according to the Privacy Act of 1976, you only have to give your SSN to your employer. And I never give that out until I'm hired as well. If anybody ever asks for my SSN I ask them to give me theirs, and it usually shuts them up pretty quick.

Oh yea - on the back of my Credit Card where you sign your name, I write the words: "Ask for ID"

badger 13 years, 3 months ago

mrcairo, you need to sign your card, too.

A lot of people say, "Well, if I sign my card, then a forger could copy my signature." Well, if you don't, he doesn't have to. He just signs it, and then you could end up having to pay the charges, because the store clerks took the card in good faith. Someone can line out 'Ask for ID' and sign the card above it, and if you didn't sign it you can be liable, not the store clerk, because your credit card agreement clearly instructs you to sign the card.

It's good to write 'Ask for ID' but it's better to write it next to your official John Hancock.

italianprincess 13 years, 3 months ago

Speaking of SSN numbers.

Alot of the places here in Lawrence that info for ID.

Sunflower asks everytime I call for the last 4 digits of my SSN so they know its me.

After reading what people are saying I'm not sure about that anymore.

Any comments??????????

nicegirl 13 years, 3 months ago

I think it's okay for Sunflower to ask for the last 4 SSN as long as you called them, but not the other way around. Maybe if you ask them, you can assign another 4 digit number to your account if it makes you more comfortable. Does anyone else have a problem with how few places actually ask for ID when you write a check or how few actually look at the signature on the back of your cards? Once you show ID at Target or HYVee to write a check, they don't ask for it again as long as you are using the same account.

Hi_Jinks 13 years, 3 months ago

Princess, I think that some businesses need your SS# for a legitimate reason, like a credit card company--when you apply for a card. However, when you apply for a job there's no guarantee you'll be hired. And what if you're not? What if you wrote down your SS# on the application because it said so? Oh, great! Now what? Does that mean that your application (with your SS#) will now sit indefinitely in some file cabinet---for, quite possibly---any administrative person at that company to see?---And the kicker don't even work for that company! You were never hired!! So, you're just some faceless stranger to anyone who works at that company you applied to work for and who just so happens to come across your application! --That's the kind of thing that doesn't sit very well with someone like me. But then again, I am kind of a "conspiracy person", so maybe it's just me!!

Fangorn 13 years, 3 months ago

Your SSN is the key. Guard it zealously. Don't use it on your driver's license or anywhere else it isn't absolutely necessary. Hi_Jinks is right: an employer doesn't need it until you've been hired. Never give out personal information unless you initiated the call.

And it's good idea to check your credit report regularly. A few years back, a person in Kentucky, who shares my first name, has a vaguely similar last name, and whose SSN is the same as mine except for the first digit, ended up on my credit report. This fraudulent Kentuckian failed to pay bills, had several liens against him, and was generally a financial mess. One of the credit companies didn't bother to investigate and simply put a "fraud alert" on my credit report. It took a while to straighten out.

nicegirl, are you feeling any better today? The flu season is just starting. I hope it didn't get you already.

Libcon 13 years, 3 months ago

Pretty soon everyone will be paying for things with their fingerprints. But like anything else it will not be perfect. Someone will try and steal other people's finger prints. It could get ugly.

Whatever you do, don't give your fingerprints to the cops, they could use them for ID theft.

nicegirl 13 years, 3 months ago

I am feeling a little better today thank you Fangorn. My son has had a stomach virus and I think I just a touch of it myself though I don't think it is the flu.

Good point on the name thing. In my hometown, there was a girl 2 years younger than me that had the same first and last name as me and the same middle initial. I always go ther library notices, doctor bills etc. Sometimes it was hard to straighten things out. The creditors thought I was lying or something.

pistolman 13 years, 3 months ago

All this advice is good, I think. How about this? Since there are so many other ways that people can get your identity (and believe me, they can if they really want to) like medical records and police records, taking student loans out in your name, etc., why not get protection from a company that straightens everything out for you if this happens? I found an awesome company called PrePaid Legal Identity Theft Shield that totally helps you out in this situation. The FTC says that about 1 in 8 people will get hit with identity theft. I can let you know where to get more info on it if you're interested.

betti81 13 years, 3 months ago

another safegaurd against identity theft is Check 21. it will help to alert the consumer of fraud or identity theft much quicker.

remember_username 13 years, 3 months ago

All good tips. One thing I didn't see mentioned - After tearing up my bills I discard them at work, not my trash at home. Identity thieves will target residental trash but rarely commercial trash, and it's alot harder to go through a massive dumpster than a trash can.

The "SEE ID" is a good addition on the back of the card but when I was traveling in the far east "SEE ID" ended up becaming part of my signature - they wouldn't accept it otherwise.

nicegirl 13 years, 3 months ago

Pistolman: Just as a warning to you, LJW does not permit using this board as a place to solicit a multilevel marketing company that you are involved in. Be careful so you don't get the boot.

Adam 13 years, 3 months ago

by the way, there is an article about the world's most notorious identity thief in this months' issue of Playboy. You should all stop off at your favorite smutty book shop and pick it up. Honestly, I really DO read the articles!!

Hi_Jinks 13 years, 3 months ago

Adam, you're not going to believe this......but I read the articles in Playboy, too!!

BTW, I really do think that the so-called "hypnotic effects from the sight of extremely large breasts" is sooooo incredibly overrated!! I tend to rather quickly breeze through the pictorial sections and get right on into the good stuff.......the articles!!!!

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