What are the very first steps you would take as soon as you realise your laptop has been stolen? After expressing your anger, there are 5 important action items you should complete and do them FAST. If you don’t, not only can the thief be accessing all your private information, but if they are tech savvy, they may be accessing your bank accounts, all other login accounts and possibly stealing your identity. When you think about it, your laptop stores a huge amount of data. It has passwords, credit card information, bank account details and much more. It won’t take a tech savvy thief long to access this information, even if you have a password protected user account. So what should you do first? Here are our top five steps you should action immediately:

1. Change your security passwords

Immediately go through your accounts, starting with your e-mail, and change all your passwords. ANYWHERE you have surfed to on your laptop means the thief can potentially find it. So quickly change your bank log on details, PayPal, Facebook, e-commerce sites, networking sites, superannuation etc. Any site you need a password for, you really should change it.

2. Report it to the police

You must file a stolen report with the Police, especially if you need to claim insurance. Hopefully you have recorded the serial number and model number, the support phone number, and any other useful details about the computer. Locate the receipts for your computer and associated equipment. Another recommended great idea is to engrave your laptop.

3. Contact your bank and credit card provider

Given most people do use Internet banking; it is highly likely you have accessed your bank accounts using your laptop. Consequently you should contact all your financial providers and alert them to your theft. Ask if they can flag or monitor your accounts. For extra precaution, cancelling your credit cards is highly recommended and also closing your accounts and transferring them to a new account is well worth the trouble, compared to trying to chase stolen money from your account.

4. Protect your credit file and security

Identity fraud is a very serious and growing occurrence, and will cause you absolute chaos if it happens to you. In Australia, Equifax is a Credit File organisation that can provide a credit file monitoring service. You should enlist this service so that you will receive a personal Equifax Alert service if someone should try and use your identity to open bank accounts, borrow money or set up a new account such as a mobile phone.

5. Tell all your contacts

You should immediately tell all your family, friends and work colleagues that your laptop has been stolen. Ask them to call or text you if they being receiving messages from “you” that do not seem legitimate.

If you have had your laptop stolen, we hope these suggestions will help you protect your identity as well as your bank accounts and personal information. There are a number of most common places where laptops are stolen so please show extra care in the following top 10 locations:

1. Schools

2. Residential Properties

3. Automobiles

4. Businesses/Offices

5. Universities and Colleges

6. Hotels and Motels

7. Restaurants and Cafes

8. Stores and Shopping Malls

9. Public Transit (includes taxis, buses, trains, etc.)

10. Airports (terminals, security checkpoints, storage areas and airport restaurants)

Our most important message to you is don’t just assume the thief is simply going to wipe your data and sell it. Identity Fraud is a crime that is becoming increasingly widespread and can cause an incredible amount of heartache. Please follow our five steps if you do have your computer or laptop stolen but we sincerely hope it’s a lesson you never have to learn.

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