I received an email from a panic stuck consumer a few days ago. This crucial mistake could have easily been avoided.
This consumer was like most other shoppers this time of year, outspending, spending and yes, more spending on his gift buying in preparation for Christmas. His wallet and credit cards came out of his wallet store after store and register after register. His mind was busy on the lines, his Christmas list and all the other Christmas drama around him. At the end of his busy shopping day, he returned home to unwind from the hustle and bustle. Low and behold he reached in his rear pocket to retrieve his wallet and somehow, somewhere along the way in all the hoopla his wallet went missing.
Realizing his wallet was stolen, he went into shock thinking his credit cards are being used and he was sure his ID was in the process of being stolen. You see, in addition to his credit cards, driver’s license and work ID, he also carried his Social Security Card in his wallet. Santa Clause himself couldn’t have given ID Thief better information to carry out their crime. I suggest always keeping your Social Security Number and Card safe. Your Social Security Card is not something you need on a daily bases and should not be carried around with you.
I explained to this consumer that more than likely a criminal would have been looking for cash and possibly credit cards. I advised him to contact his creditors and instruct them to cancel his credit cards due to theft and issue new ones. Canceling his cards would limit any risk of loss on his credit cards but what about his ID? I explained that most thieves aren’t in the ID theft game even if they have all your information. I instructed him to be safe and put a fraud alert on his credit reports. The fraud alert will require any new potential creditors to confirm his Identification prior to granting any credit. Always remember what your mother told you, you are better to be safe than sorry.
Lastly, the day after his frantic email, he wrote back saying his wife found his missing wallet (the very one he was certain was stolen) in one of his shopping bags. He now felt a huge sense of relief and regained his Christmas spirit.
The moral of the story, keep your Social Security Number and card private. This number should only be used in making applications for credit from a trusted source.