We hear all of the normal precautions...protect your social security number, be aware of the red flags that go up when you receive unusual phone calls, don't leave outgoing mail in your mailbox.
However, I just completed a Fraud and ID Theft class. It was truly an eye-opener. This specialist mentioned some things that I would never have thought of. For that reason, I am going to pass some of them on to you. Some are for office policies and others are for all of us. I hope you find it as useful as I did.
- Do you make copies of checks? Most offices do and I would suspect that many individuals do. That little routing number and account number at the bottom is every bit as useful in a copy as it is in the original check. The best precaution is simply to not make a copy unless it is absolutely necessary. If it is necessary, block out the bottom numbers.
- All of us carry around our laptops. The question is: where to you keep it? Is it on the front seat of your car? Do you leave it unattended at your desk? It may have sensitive information on it. If it is in your car, hide it. If it is on your desk, put it away or at the very least, always put it on the password required page when you leave it.
- Where does your office keep your deposit checks from your buyers? (Or where do YOU keep your clients deposit checks?) They should ALWAYS be locked away. In other words, not in will call for the delivery company, not in the drawer of the escrow control person, not in your wallet, and not in the file.
- Where do you keep your personal information or your agents personal information? Is it in the drawer of the management? Is it in an expandable file in your house or office? It should be locked away.
- When you scan at your office, do you delete the scan when you are done? Ask your office if they clear their copier every night. The talent of ID thieves includes finding this information even though it no longer is on the screeen or copier.
- Did you know that offices are now required to have an ID Theft and Fraud Policy? Ask your office if they are developing one - if not, encourage them to do so. They can find plenty of information at http://www.ftc.gov/bcp/edu/microsites/idtheft/ .
Have a safe and secure 2010!