Ms. Jean informed you in a recent column about the break-in of cars at our branch in which purses were stolen from under the seats. I'd like to follow-up with some tips on how to prevent people from obtaining personal information from your business transactions and some measures to take if you have your wallet or purse stolen.

I received an email from a friend with this list. It was from an attorney, but he had his wallet stolen and in attempting to contact various credit card companies and his bank he learned a few things that he wanted to pass on to others.

The first tip given was not to sign the back of your credit cards. Instead, put "Photo ID required." For sure, sign your library card. It would be possible for someone to steal yours or your child's and sign his or her own name.

When you are writing checks to pay on your credit card accounts, do not put the complete account number on the "For" line. Instead, just put the last four numbers. The credit card company knows the rest of the number, and anyone who might be handling your check as it passes through all the check processing channels won't have access to it.

Put your work phone number on your checks instead of your home phone. If you have a P. O. Box, use that instead of your home address. If you do not have P.O. Box, use your work address. You should file a police report immediately in the jurisdiction where your credit cards, etc. were stolen.

There is also an often overlooked step: call the three national credit reporting organizations immediately to place fraud alerts on your name and also call the Social Security fraud line number. The attorney who wrote this list said that a bank officer advised him to notify Social Security because an application for credit was made over the Internet in his name.

The alert means any company that checks your credit knows your information was stolen, and they have to contact you by phone to authorize new credit. If you do nothing except make copies of your wallet, keep this list of numbers and you will be able to quickly stop further damage to your credit in case of stolen credit cards:

1. Equifax: (800) 525-6285

2. Experian (formerly TRW): (888) 397-3742

3. Trans Union: (800) 680-7289

4. Social Security Administration (fraud line): (800) 269-0271

I'd like to emphasize, as Ms Jean did: do not leave your purse in your car at the library or any other place, even if out of sight.

Lynda Whitton is the head librarian for the Northwest Branch Library in Corpus Christi. Readers may contact her at 241-9329.