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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

MobileMe -- $99/year

Lookout app -- $0

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.

How to place a fraud alert on your credit reports, and review your credit reports.

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.

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  1. In addition, I’ve been advised to call the Social Security Administration fraud line (1-800-269-0271). Especially important if your stolen/lost files contain your SSN.

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