Protect yourself against identity fraud

A clever thief can steal someone's identity as easily as a wallet or purse.

With a stolen identification, thieves have been known to order expensive cell phone packages, apply for credit cards, purchase computers online and even change driving record record information.

Anyone losing credit cards should cancel them immediately.

In the meantime, they should make photocopies of both sides of credit cards and driver licenses in order to keep the toll-free numbers and the credit card numbers available, Kingman police Cpl.

Tracie Homer said.

The prompt filing of police report proves to credit providers a victim is diligent.

It will also give detectives a better chance of recovering lost items.

"Go ahead and report the theft to law enforcement," Homer said.

"Sometimes people turn things in.

People have mailed us lost wallets."

To limit the loss if a wallet or purse is stolen, Homer recommends carrying exactly what is needed on a shopping trip.

"Don't carry other credit cards and carry just enough cash you'll need," she said.

When ordering bank checks, it is a good idea to have first initials instead of a first name printed on them in case the checks are stolen.

Only the bank would know, but thieves will not, if someone signs a check using a full name rather than initials.

Have a work phone number and address rather than a home phone number or address printed on the checks, Homer advises.

Use a post office box instead of a home address, and never put Social Security numbers on personal checks.

If a cell phone is stolen from a purse, call police immediately and discontinue the service as soon as possible, Homer said.

Law enforcement also recommends calling the three national credit reporting organizations immediately to place a fraud alert on your name and Social Security number.

The three credit reporting organizations are; Equifax at (800) 525-6285, Experian (formerly TRW) at (888) 397-3742 or Trans Union at (800) 680-7289.

The Social Security Administration has a fraud line, (800) 269-0271.