Watch that wallet! -, South Georgia News, Weather, Sports

Watch that wallet!

September 18, 2006

Lee County --  If you have ever had your wallet or purse stolen, you know how much trouble it is to replace all the credit cards and identification you keep in it. Now, law enforcement is warning you to protect yourself against identity theft, if your wallet is stolen.

Dorene Parker had her purse stolen out of a shopping cart at the grocery store. When she called the credit card company, it was already too late. "She used my credit card within three minutes of snatching my purse."

Parker had to go home, find her bills, and look up the phone number to the credit card company to cancel all her cards. That takes time, and gives identity thieves a free hand with your credit.  

Lt. Craig Dodd of the Dougherty County Sheriff's Office said "Most people keep everything in their wallet. They keep their social security card, credit cards, drivers license, bank account cards, debit cards. It can be a huge problem for anyone who has credit."

There are some good tips for protecting yourself if your wallet is stolen. First, keep as little in your wallet as you have to have. If there is a theft, the less they can use against you. Photocopy the contents of your wallet. Copy both sides of all your credit cards and driver's license. Then you will know the phone numbers you need to call to report the theft. But make sure you keep those copies in a safe place.  "A lot of times it's a relative that does it to you. Someone who is authorized to be in your house, and sees you put this stuff away," Dodd said. 

Do not sign the back of your credit cards, write on them PHOTO ID REQUIRED. Then store clerks should demand to see a driver's license.

In Southwest Georgia forging stolen checks is a huge problem. To protect them, never have your Social Security number printed on the check. But also put only your initials and last name on your checks. If someone takes your checkbook, they will not know how to sign your checks, but the bank will. Put your work telephone number and a Post Office Box address on your checks, to keep your identity hidden from people in the check processing channels.

Friday at the Doublegate Country Club thieves broke the windows on two cars and stole wallets that been left in cars, and used the credit cards within ten minutes.

Dodd said, "Men are notorious for leaving their checkbooks and their wallets in their vehicle. Why would you leave your wallet in your vehicle overnight?"

Thieves are becoming more bold stealing wallets from cars. You have to safeguard your wallet, or you could become the next victim of America's fastest growing crime-- Identity theft. 

Dodd says thieves are also stealing those new credit card letters that everyone seems to get in the mail daily. They apply for the card, while giving a new address, and have several months to run up bills before you ever know about the theft. A locking mailbox is one way to protect against that.



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