Did you know that a laptop is stolen every 12 seconds? This surprising but true statistic means that by the time you’re done reading this blog, roughly 10 more laptops will be stolen from their rightful owners. Laptop theft is a crime on the rise, making up a mammoth 57 % of all stolen data. In 2010, a survey found that more than 55% of Americans own a laptop, which means the majority of Americans need to be aware of this growing problem and have a plan to defend against it.
If your laptop ever goes missing, crooks will have access to more than just some expensive hardware. Laptops are becoming increasingly appealing targets for identity thieves, so you need to know what to do if you become a victim.
- Make Sure it Was Actually Stolen– The lost and found department in La Guardia airport has collected more than 70,000 unclaimed laptops over the years. Don’t automatically assume your laptop is stolen, retrace your steps to where you last recall using the device and see if it has been turned into the proper authorities.
- Change ALL Your Passwords– You’ll need to change every password you’ve ever used on your laptop. This includes work passwords, email passwords, bank information, and even social media accounts. If the laptop was a work computer, you also need to let your IT administrator know as soon as possible, so your network passwords can be changed and alerts for failed login attempts can be created.
- Cancel Your Credit Cards– Keystroke memory now comes as a standard feature on most laptops, so if you’ve ever bought anything online with your laptop, your credit card information might be stored on your machine and vulnerable to theft. Just to be safe, it’s a good idea to cancel all credit cards that might be stored on your laptop.
- Notify Clients– If your device had client data saved on it, contact your clients to alert them that their personal information may be jeopardized. This might annoy some people, but most clients will understand and appreciate your honesty and the effort to protect their information.
Don’t wait to be a victim, take preemptive steps to protect the data on your laptop. Tracking software that can locate a stolen laptop, and cloud storage that automatically backs up your data, are both great services for laptop owners to take advantage of. After all, it’s always better to be safe than sorry!