Call for Action: Bulletproofing Your Identity

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Valerie Scafaria is the creative force behind "Keepsake Garters," a small business that began as a hobby, when her daughter and her daughter's friends couldn't find garters to match their prom dresses.

"I did some for some relatives and some friends for their weddings, and that's how it started," said Scafaria.

For now, the business is small enough that the mother of two pays cash for supplies; she hasn't ruled out the idea of a company checking account, although she does worry about identity theft.

"Every time I am writing out those checks and you go to sign your name at the bottom, and right to the left of that are all those numbers that anybody can take and use them," said Scafaria.

According to Dr. Bill Mahnic, professor of banking and finance at Case Western Reserve University, that information Scafaria worries about making public is all the information an identity thief needs to empty a person’s bank account.

"When you write a check, you're just as much at risk for identity theft as you are when you use a credit card, or when you use a debit card," he told Call For Action Reporter Lorrie Taylor.

He said consumers need to think twice about who they give their checks to if they want to bulletproof their identities. Handing over a check or entering those identifying numbers while making a purchase online gives an identity thief full access to their bank accounts.

"What's different about when someone raids your checking account as opposed to someone using, raiding your credit account, is your money's gone," cautioned Mahnic.

Federal laws that safeguard consumers when their credit card accounts are broken into, do not offer the same protections to owners of checking accounts.

"When it's your checking account the bank is gonna work, but not near as hard,” said Mahnic, “because it’s not their money that's gone, it's your money that's gone."

Mahnic said checking account owners can protect themselves by catching thieves in the act of testing their accounts.

"Typically these thieves, before they steal from you, they'll do $11.10 or $24.99 to see if someone is monitoring this, to see if they can get away with it, then they go for the big money," he said.

Scafaria said she knows the secret to bulletproofing her identity is to limit who she gives her checks to, while at the same time, keeping an eye on her account to make sure all the transactions add up.

*CLICK HERE for Lorrie’s Call for Action report on Identity Theft schemes.

1 Comment

  • Darrell D

    When paying your taxes, they want you to put your social security number on the check. Is that really required, is it safe.

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