5 back-up plans in case you’ve lost the tools you use every day.

NOTHING can be more stressful or messy than losing your keys, your laptop, your wallet, your personal organizer or your cell-phone.  There are some very easy steps you can take to make their loss less chaotic; getting a new license, new credit cards, and passwords.

Some of these tips secure your property to reduce their chances of losing your information and some are a guide to how to remedy the situation if you do have a disaster.                         

WALLET  – Before it gets lost

  1. Make a photocopy of all the credit and debit cards, and the ones in your desk drawer too. Make a note on each one of the customer service number and the CVT code on the back.  Keep a copy at home and in your office.
  2. Don’t carry your Social Security card.  You will rarely need it. If it gets into the wrong hands life can become miserable.
  3. Leave your ATM cards at home.  You won’t need more than one in a day.

Oops, I’ve lost it

  1. File a police report.
  2. Ask you creditors for replacement cards with new account numbers and PINs (Remember the copy you made?)-
  3. Your liability will top as soon as you notify your creditors.
  4. Have your bank close your current accounts and request new ones.
  5. Contact the reporting agencies, Experian at 888-397-3742,  Equifax at 800-685-1111, and TransUnion at 800-916-8800. They will flag your account with a fraud alert to prevent anyone from opening accounts in your name. This should prevent a lot of the chaos associated with identity theft
  6. You can get three free credit reports per year at annualcreditreport.com.  There are some other companies that will monitor your credit for a monthly fee.

LAPTOP – Before it gets lost

  1. Make a record of your model and serial numbers.
  2. Create a strong password.
  3. Back-up your hard drive (Consider a plan that backs-up your hard drive automatically so that even today’s work can’t get lost.)
  4. Keep an eye on your laptop, wherever you are.  Laptops are very easy to steal and can disappear are an instant. Check with your insurance company, you may be able to get it covered.

Oops, I’ve lost it

  1. Report your loss to the police, with the serial and model numbers.
  2. If you are on a work or work related computer notify your boss so they can take action if necessary.
  3. Check your credit. Many bad guys steal computers to get your personal information.
  4. Contact your back-up company (you do have one don’t you?) to restore yours.  Your laptop will be as good as new in no time at all.

PERSONAL ORGANIZER – Before it gets lost

  1. Some people still use date books and other paper systems along with their laptops. These also need to be secured, just like your laptop.
  2. Put your name, phone number or email address inside the front cover.DO NOT include your home address.  Somebody may return it.
  3. If you think it was stolen instead of just lost report it to the police.  They may be able to find it for you.
  4. Thin it out weekly so it easier to hold on to. Don’t carry things that you don’t really need.
  5. Create a back-up file of addresses and passwords.  Refresh it regularly.

Oops, I’ve lost it

  1. Replace it as soon as possible.  You should be able to recover some of it while your mind is still fresh.
  2. Use your back-up copies to rebuild as much as you can.
  3. Notify friends I you had any of their personal information.
  4. Consider upgrading to a smart phone.  It will carry all your information and then some, and be much easier to back up and to sort.

CELL PHONE – Before it gets lost

  1. Most of the ways described to secure and rebuild data on your cell phone is the same as what you do to protect your laptop.
  2. Keep a copy of the model and serial numbers someplace other than your phone.
  3. Create a strong password to prevent anybody can get to your information
  4. Water is the enemy of a cell phone. If you are going to be anywhere neat water slip you phone into a zipper top bag to prevent it from getting wet.

Oops, I’ve lost it

  1. Call yourself from another phone.  Your phone may not be lost at all.
  2. Contact your service provider to let them know if you think it was stolen, and to put your
  3. number on hold until you can replace the phone.
  4. Very inexpensive used replacement phones are available on web sites like eBay or Craig’s list.  Sometimes you can get affordable refurbished ones from the manufacturer   This will save you a lot of money compared to buying a new phone.
  5. If you do have to change your number notify your friends what the number will be

KEYS – Before they get lost

  1. Some low tech items are still as important, or even more so than your laptop or cell phone.
  2. The most important is your keys.
  3. Leave a spare house key with a trusted neighbor or friend.  Spares of all your other keys can be hidden in the house. Do not put labels on your spare keys though unless you use a code, otherwise you are telling a robber just where to look for loot.
  4. Remove all of those membership tags from your key chain. They can be a tool for identity theft. Put them all on their own key chain that you can leave hidden in the car or in your bag.  Most places that you would also accept your phone number as your membership number so you don’t need the tag at all.
  5. Add to the tag ring all the keys that you very seldom use. You don’t want to replace everything in case they get lost.

Oops, I’ve lost it

  1. If you think the keys were stolen file a police report. You may need to have this record in the future for your insurance company.
  2. Call a locksmith immediately. They can rekey all of your locks faster and more
  3.  inexpensively than replacing them. New locks and the labor to install them can be very expensive.

If you don’t already have them add dead bolt locks to all entry doors. Be sure that they are the kind that require a key to lock from either side. Bad guys don’t want to take the extra time and trouble to get into.