No. 710



When it comes to unethical, dishonest or even criminal behavior, my former business partner, the late Bob Gannaway, had a saying, “Do me wrong once, shame on you. Do me wrong twice, shame on me.” Bob was also an attorney but he hated the negative side of practicing law so he spent his time selling motivational materials and teaching self-improvement courses of one form or another. What he was saying, of course, is that we need to be a fast learner when it comes to other people taking advantage of us. Bob died about 15 years ago and he would literally turn over in his grave if he were around today to see what is happening in our society.
This is what I thought about the other day when a friend sent me something titled, “Attorney’s Advice – No Charge.” My advice, and I’m not an attorney, is to make a copy of this column and keep it in your files. When you read it, I believe you will agree that it could come in handy some day as we all look to an uncertain future. In the form of a list, a corporate attorney sent the following legal advice out to all the employees of his company. It begins:
No. 1 - “Do not sign the back of your credit cards. Instead put ‘Photo ID Required’.
“No. 2 - When you are writing checks to pay your credit card accounts, DO NOT put the complete ACCOUNT NUMBER on the “For” line. Instead, just put the LAST FOUR NUMBERS. This will keep anyone from all the processing channels having access to it.
“No. 3 – Put your work number on your checks instead of your home phone. If you have a P.O. Box, use that instead of your home address. You should NEVER have your Social Security number printed on your checks. You can add it if it is necessary, but never have it printed. Anyone can get it.
“No. 4 – Put the contents of your wallet or purse on a photocopy machine. Do both sides of each license, credit card, etc. You will know what you had in your wallet and all the account numbers and phone numbers so you can call and cancel. Keep the photocopy in a safe place. This corporate attorney also says, ‘I also keep a photocopy of my passport when I travel either here or abroad. We have all heard the horror stories about fraud that’s committed on us in stealing a name, address, Social Security number and credit cards.’
“Unfortunately, I, an attorney, have first-hand knowledge because my wallet was stolen last month. Within a week the thieves ordered an expensive monthly cell phone package, applied for a VISA credit card, had a credit line approved to buy a Gateway computer, received a PIN number from DMV to change my driving record information online, and more. But here’s some critical information to limit the damage in case this happens to you or someone you know.
“No. 5 – You should cancel credit cards immediately. But the key is having the toll-free numbers and your card numbers handy so you know whom to call. Keep those where you can find them.
“No. 6 – File a police report immediately in the jurisdiction where your credit cards, etc., were stolen. This proves to the credit providers that you were diligent, and this is the first step toward an investigation (if there ever is one).
“No. 7 – Call the three national credit reporting organizations immediately to place a fraud alert on your name and also call the Social Security. fraud line number.”
This attorney goes on to say that by the time he was advised to do this, almost two weeks after the theft, the damage had been done. It’s a sad state of affairs to know there are people lurking out there who are just plain crooks, so we should protect ourselves.
(EDITOR'S NOTE: Jim Davidson is a public speaker and syndicated columnist. You may contact him at 2 Bentley Drive, Conway, AR 72034. To begin a bookcase literacy project visit