Protect yourself from fraud

A lawyer who learned through being victimized, shares the following useful information.

Use only your initials and last name on your cheques. If your checkbook is stolen, a forger will have less hint of how to sign your name -- but your bank will know. Put your work phone number on your cheque, not your home, and use a P.O. box number or your office address instead of your home address.

When paying credit card accounts, only put the last four numbers of the credit card account on your check because it passes through many hands. The company will know the other numbers.

Place the contents of your wallet on a photocopy machine and copy both sides of all cards. If your wallet is stolen this is a perfect record of what you lost and you will have all the account numbers available to call and cancel. Copy your passport while you're at it. Do put these copies in a safe place at home or office.

When there's been a theft, file a po-lice report immediately. This proves you've been diligent. Also call the national credit reporting organizations to place an immediate fraud alert on your name. This will offer some protection in case of identity fraud. Your banking institution should be able to help you with this step. Time is of the essence.