I was the recently on the wrong end of a 488. For those of you who aren’t familiar with the California penal codes, that’s a petty theft. My laptop, PS3, and iPad are gone, taken from me. At this point, I can only hope that my things broke in the act of the robbery and are rendered useless.
Unfortunately, hope and $3.50 will get me a café latte and that latte cannot secure my precious data at this point; my saved passwords, tax returns…the keys to the castle. Our devices are increasingly holding more important information and when these devices get compromised, so does our sensitive data.
Luckily, I back up my data frequently so I have all of my personal files (back up your files…now!). Personally, I use Carbonite and an external hard drive. However, that doesn’t help the fact that the original copies are at large and may fall into the wrong hands. Please check out these programs to proactively protect your information. Here are the services, the costs associated with each, the devices they protect, and how they do it:
Lojack for Laptops -- $30/year -- $45/year
- Devices: Laptops (Mac and PC)
- What it can do: track your laptop, remote password lock, remote data wipe, $1000 service guarantee.
MobileMe -- $99/year
- Devices: iPad/iPhone/iPod/Mac/PC
- What it can do: sync /backup data, track your phone, sound alarm, remote password lock, remote factory reset.
Lookout app -- $0
- Devices: Android Phones
- What it can do: backup data, track your phone, sound alarm, remote password lock (premium), and remote data wipe (premium). You can buy the premium package even after it’s lost/stolen. Once it’s connected to the network you will be able to lock or delete your data.
- Other Apps: Top 20 Android Security Apps
Now the million dollar question…What do I do if my personal information is stolen before I got a chance to set these up?
Answer: check your accounts/credit cards thoroughly to make sure all is well (cancel if necessary) and then set up fraud alerts. Cost: $0.
Below is the exact email from my credit monitoring company on how to do so:
<-- Email from Debix -->
What is a fraud alert?
There are two types of fraud alerts: an initial alert, and an extended alert.
- An initial fraud alert stays on your credit report for at least 90 days. An initial fraud alert would be placed on your credit report if you suspect you have been, or will be, a victim of identity theft. An initial alert is appropriate if your wallet has been stolen or if you’ve been taken in by a “phishing” scam. With an initial fraud alert, potential creditors must use what the law refers to as “reasonable policies and procedures” to verify your identity before issuing credit in your name. However, the steps potential creditors take to verify your identity may not always alert them that the applicant is not you.
- An extended fraud alert stays on your credit report for seven years. You can have an extended alert placed on your credit report if you’ve been a victim of identity theft and you provide the consumer reporting company with an Identity Theft Report, which is a police report with more than the usual amount of detail.
How to place a fraud alert on your credit reports, and review your credit reports.
- By Phone: 1-800-680-7289
- By Mail:
Fraud Victim Assistance Division
P.O. Box 6790
Fullerton, CA 92834-6790
- Online: TransUnion does not allow Fraud alerts to be placed online.
- By Phone: 1-888-EXPERIAN (397-3742)
- By Mail:
P.O. Box 9554
Allen, TX 75013
- Online: Experian Online Fraud Alert request form.
The Credit Bureau that you contact is required to notify the other two bureaus as well, to place an alert on their versions of your credit file. If you do not receive confirmation by mail from all three Credit Bureaus, you should contact them directly to place the fraud alert.
Do you have any tips that can help us protect our digital information? Feel free to share them. Any and all comments are welcome and, as always, feel free to connect with me on Twitter - @arom1000.