Identity Theft Prevention Tips for RVers
by Fran Crawford
The information presented here is very good everyday advice for RVers who might misplace, lose or leave their wallets and not realize it until they are miles down the road.
These tips below are to alert RVers to some safety precautions they can take with the financial information normally carried in wallets and purses while traveling by RV.
- Write 'Photo ID required' on the back of your credit cards instead of your signature. A thug would have to come up with a license that had your name and a photo of his mug to use the card.
- NEVER put your entire credit card number on checks to pay your credit card account. The last four numbers will do. Your credit card company will have the rest of the numbers and no one else needs to have access to them.
- Use your P.O. Box or Mailing Services address on your checks instead of your home address. This is especially if your 'stick' house is vacant when you are traveling in your RV.
- Do not put your phone number on your checks. If a merchant needs it you will be asked for it. Write your cellphone number where you can be reached while RVing. Your landline should be on 'vacation service' while you are on the road.
- Never have your Social Security number printed on your checks. You can add it when and if necessary. The Social Security Administration even advises that you not carry it in your wallet.
- Photocopy both sides of cards you carry in your wallet... drivers license, credit cards, insurance cards, medicare, social security, health related cards so if your wallet turns up missing you will know what you had in it.
- You should also have the account numbers and toll free phone numbers to call to cancel your accounts. Keep this information in a safe, place in your motorhome or trailer when you are traveling.
- Additionally it is a good idea to keep a photocopy of your passport with these other papers in your rig. Soon a passport will be needed to re-enter the country even if you just crossed a border for the day.
- File a police report immediately in the jurisdiction where your information turned up missing or was stolen.
- Call the Social Security fraud line and report your missing wallet problem.
- IMPORTANT... notify the three national credit reporting organizations as soon as possible to put a fraud alert on your name. A thief can apply for and get credit online with your numbers unless a company that checks your credit knows your information was stolen. They then must contact you before authorizing new credit.
Check your credit report regularly, at least once a year, and be alert monthly for credit activity on your accounts that you have not authorized. It's easy to push such duties aside when you're traveling the highways and byways and having too much fun RVing... but the consequences can be costly.
Here are four numbers you need to contact when your wallet/information has been stolen:
- Equifax: 1-888-766-0008 http://www.equifax.com
- Experian (formerly TRW): 888-397-3742
- Trans Union: 800-680-7289
- Social Security Admin. (fraud line):1-866-325-4529
SSA Identity Teft Web Page
Add to the numbers above the contact numbers of your credit cards, insurance cards and the Department of Motor Vehicles for whatever state issued your drivers license. And keep the list in a safe place in your motorhome, travel trailer, or fifth wheel.