Pittsburgh Legal Back Talk

Legal topics of interest to lawyers and consumers with a Pittsburgh and Western Pennsylvania focus.

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In Case Your Wallet is Lost or Stolen.

Posted By Cliff Tuttle | March 4, 2010

Here is your to-do list to protect yourself from identity theft:

Scan everything in your wallet (front and back) and label the file so that you can find it. Review and update the information periodically. The most effective way for a consumer to protect against unauthorized information being used to open credit cards is to institute a security freeze. Pennsylvania law requires the three credit reporting agencies (Trans Union, Experian and Equifax) to freeze access to your credit card files if you give them written instructions and pay a $10.00 fee. This means that even if a potential identity thief has your personal information, he can’t use it to obtain a credit card because the card issuer won’t be able to check your credit unless you “un-freeze” the account. If you later want to buy a car or a house, you can remove the freeze and then reinstitute it when you are finished.

However, if you didn’t do that, for whatever reason, cancel the cards and contact the three credit reporting agencies immediately after discovering that your wallet is missing and request a fraud alert. Here are the numbers:

Equifax: 800-525-6285

Experian: 888-397-3742

Trans Union 800-680-7289

In addition, the Social Security Administration has a fraud reporting line at 800-269-0271.

If you lose the numbers, you can always dial up this blog and use the search box.  The words “identity theft” will get you to this article.  So will the name of any of the three credit reporting agencies. Remember:speed is of the essence.  The identity thief will be racing against you.



CLIFF TUTTLE has been a Pennsylvania lawyer for over 45 years and (inter alia) is a real estate litigator and legal writer. The posts in this blog are intended to provide general information about legal topics of interest to lawyers and consumers with a Pittsburgh and Western Pennsylvania focus. However, this information does not constitute legal advice and there is no lawyer-client relationship created when you read this blog. You are encouraged to leave comments but be aware that posted comments can be read by others. If you wish to contact me in privacy, please use the Contact Form located immediately below this message. I will reply promptly and in strict confidence.

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