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What to Do If Your Laptop Is Stolen

when a laptop is stolen

How much do you think a stolen laptop costs a company?
$500? $1,000? Oddly enough, according to an FBI crime computer crime survey, the average cost of a stolen laptop costs a company $31,975. No, these aren't cases of immensely expensive laptops, but rather extremely valuable data that can be compromised by nefarious actors. More than just the cost of lost hardware, your team's laptops are treasure troves of valuable data for those looking for sensitive data. 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. Here are five things you'll need to do to minimize the damage of a lost or stolen laptop.

1. Make Sure it Was Actually Stolen. 
If you've ever been around a child who has lost their crayon, you know how silly it can be to assume that any missing item means you were a victim of theft. Don't automatically assume your laptop is stolen. For example, LaGuardia Airport reported an average of 800 laptops left at checkpoints every year. Retrace your steps to where you last recall using the device and see if it has been turned into the proper authorities.

​2. Use GPS to Find It.
Due to increased rates of lost or stolen laptops these days, many hardware and software manufacturers have created ways to find laptops using GPS tracking. For Microsoft-enabled PCs, Find My Device can help find lost computers. For Mac Users, Find My Mac works much of the same way. Similar services may also allow you to locate lost Android or iOS devices.

3. Change All of 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.

4. 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.

5. 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.

3. 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!

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