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Protect against identity theft.

Despite complex passwords, multiple user names and 16-digit account numbers supposedly standing guard over our financial records, high-tech identity theft is rampant. The price tag continues to soar as sophisticated thieves find ways to dip into our bank and security accounts. Here are some safety advisories to pass along to clients:

* Use only your initials and your last name on preprinted checks. So if someone steals your checkbook, they will not know how you sign your checks--with your initials or your first name and last name. But your bank knows.

* When writing checks to pay credit card accounts, include only the last four numbers of the account number on the "For" line. The credit card company knows the rest of the code, but a thief won't.

* Leave your home address and phone number off your checks. If you have a post office box, it's better to use that; if not, and you feel a need to add an address, use your work address and phone number.

* If you must include your Social Security number on checks, write--never preprint. Be wary about giving the number to anyone but authorized people your banker or accountant, for example.

* Photocopy the front and back of all the ID cards (driver's license and credit cards, for example) in your wallet. Jot down the credit card issuers' phone numbers to call if you lose die wallet, and keep the photocopy in a safe place.

* Immediately after you discover a loss, cancel your credit cards; that's why you want those phone numbers handy.

* File a police report as soon as possible in the jurisdiction where the wallet disappeared. That proves to credit card providers you were diligent--an issue that may arise if the thief runs up huge charges.

* Immediately call the three national credit-reporting organizations to place a fraud alert on your name and Social Security number. Once alerted, any company that checks your credit immediately will be told your information was stolen. You should call the following: Equifax (888-766-0008), Experian (888-397-3742) and Tram Union (800-680-7289). You also should report the loss to the Social Security Administration's fraud line at 800-269-0271.
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Title Annotation:Golden Business Ideas
Author:Zarowin, Stanley
Publication:Journal of Accountancy
Date:May 1, 2004
Previous Article:AICPA conferences 2004.
Next Article:Advice on giving advice.

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