What to do if your Laptop is Stolen
The problem with carrying around an expensive, portable piece of equipment is that it's possible for someone to pick it up and run with it. According to LoJack, a security firm that focuses on stolen property, two million laptops are stolen each year. What should you do if you are a victim of laptop theft?
Your laptop is likely more than just an expensive investment in hardware. It can store plenty of data, passwords, credit card information, and much more, and a person doesn't have to be very savvy to crack into your user account and gain access to everything. There are plenty of proactive measures you can take to calm the stress of laptop theft and even help you retrieve your stolen laptop, but let's assume that you haven't done this. What should you in the event of a stolen (or lost) laptop? Let's think of a worst case scenario, where the thief doesn't just wipe your data and attempt to sell the laptop. In this case, yes, you just lost your investment but you can go to the store and pay money to get it back. In a worst case scenario the thief will hunt around for any juicy data that they can find, such as credit cards, passwords, bank accounts, company documents, and the like. As mentioned, password protecting your user account doesn't do you very much good for a savvy thief.
Go through your accounts, starting with your email, and change your passwords. Don't reuse a password - create a new one with letters, numbers, and a symbol or two whenever possible. You will want to do this quickly before the thief has a chance to change them first. Once you change your email password, change passwords on your bank accounts, paypal, social networking sites, ecommerce sites, and anywhere else you can think of. If you've surfed to it before on your stolen laptop, the thief will find it. Don't forget accounts like instant messengers and other services.
File a police report. If possible, give the authorities your laptop's model and serial number. If your laptop hasn't been stolen yet, it's suggested that you jot it down right now. You can file a report with your computer manufacturer, especially if the thief didn't get a power cable to charge it with - they may try to go straight to the manufacturer. You can also check pawn shops and online sites like Craigslist and eBay for laptops that match yours. It's worth a shot to see if the thief simply tried selling it immediately.
Monitor your Money
You will want to put either a fraud alert or a credit freeze on your credit cards. If you bought anything on your laptop your credit card information is likely stored, and even if you know you haven't used your credit card on your laptop, it is still better to be safe than sorry. There are credit monitoring services that will help you keep track of fraud as well - check with your bank or credit card company for reporting and monitoring services. Be sure to change your pin numbers associated with your bank accounts as well. You may even want to contact companies you do business with to flag and monitor your accounts.
There are plenty of things you can do to protect your laptop and proactively safeguard yourself in the event of your laptop getting stolen. If you own a laptop, now is the time to take the necessary precautions so that if it is lost or stolen you can retrieve it or at the very least protect your identity. Give us a call at 607.433.2200 to find out what you can do to prevent identity theft.