Over the weekend, my laptop was stolen. Though I had security measures in place to prevent data theft, it’s best to assume that these safeguards have been compromised. Being a computer guy, I know how easy it can be to crack a password and defeat most forms of encryption.
Step 1: Freeze your Accounts
As I was waiting for the police to arrive, I was on the phone with my bank, credit card, and investment companies alerting them that my data had been stolen. They verified that there had not been any suspicious activity and closed/froze the accounts for me. The next day I opened all new accounts with different account numbers, different pins, and different passwords.
Step 2: Change your Passwords
Step 3: Notify your Friends
Once I was confident that the thief could not access any of my accounts, I posted a blog entry, a MySpace bulletin, and sent emails to warn people that my data had been stolen and could be used for fraud; not only against me, but them as well.
Step 4: Purchase Identity Theft Insurance
Though all my existing accounts are now protected, it may be possible for the thief to open new accounts in my name. So I purchased identity theft insurance for about $13.00 per month.
I hope I haven’t forgotten anything. If I have, please post a comment with your suggestions. My hope is that this post will enable others in similar situations to protect their assets and their identities.