1. The next time you order checks, have your initials (instead of your first name) and last name put on the checks. If someone takes your checkbook, they will not know if you sign your checks with just your initials or your first name, but your bank will know how you sign your checks.

2. Do not sign the back of your credit cards. Instead, put “PHOTO ID REQUIRED.”

3. When your are writing checks to pay on your credit card accounts, do not put the complete account number on the “For” line. Instead, just put the last four numbers. The credit card company knows the rest of the number, and anyone who might be handling your check as it passes through all the check processing channels won’t have access to your credit card number.

4. Put your work phone number on your checks instead of your home phone. 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 your checks. You can add it if it is necessary, but if you have it printed, anyone can get it.

5. Place the contents of your wallet on a photocopy machine. Copy both sides of each license, credit card, etc. You will know what you had in your wallet and all of the account numbers and phone numbers to call and cancel. Keep the photocopy in a safe place. You should also carry a photocopy of your passport with you when you travel either here or abroad.

6. If your credit cards are stolen, file a police report immediately in the jurisdiction where they were stolen. This proves to credit providers you were diligent, and this is a first step toward an investigation (if there ever is one).

7. If your credit cards are stolen, 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 to the three credit reporting organizations are:

 A. Equifax: 1-800-685-1111
 B. Experian: 1-888-397-3742
 C. Trans Union: 1-800-888-4213

The number to the Social Security Administration fraud line is 1-800-269-0271.