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Quote of the Day - Data is not information. Information is not knowledge. Knowledge is not understanding. Understanding is not wisdom. - Unknown
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There's No Reason Theft Of Sensitive Data Should Be Exposed Potentially Waiving Privilege And Privacy Rights And What To Do About It If It Happens

There's a lot of buzz about stolen laptops and worries about the theft of personal data.  You've seen the commercials on television where we see the hapless identify theft victim mouthing words, but the words spoken come from the thief who got the victim's credit card information and went shopping.  Then there's the newspaper articles cautioning us about identity theft. 

Seems like veterans and travelers risk having their credit cards and other personal information spread around the Internet, with criminals going on spending sprees with those credit cards.  These days, with the amount of data that's stored on a small telephone could result in the same disaster if you either lose or someone steals your cell phone.

But the eventuality shouldn't even arise. 

          Two Ways To Wipe Data From A Stolen Laptop And Cell Phone

There are at least two software products out there that can immediately solve these problems.  Let me recommend two programs.  First, for your laptop, there's Lojack for Laptops.  For cell phones, there's RemotePROTECT.  I have no ownership interest in these companies, but would not refuse it if offered. 

While Lojack for Laptops is more robust (there's more hard disk space on a laptop) and has more options, both programs generally accomplish the same thing:  they lock the device down, prevent unauthorized access to the sensitive data, and if the owner sends an appropriate command, then the software wipes the hard drive, making the laptop/cell phone worthless.   I installed RemotePROTECT, but had to uninstall it because it was such a memory hog on my phone, it kept crashing.  I don't know of other alternatives out there that do the same thing, but be aware of this problem. 

Both programs are inexpensive compared to the amount of damage caused.  Lojack for Laptops retails under $100 for three years of coverage, and RemotePROTECT is under $25.00 - a one-time charge.  If you're going to install RemotePROTECT, then be careful, and make sure that your cell phone has enough memory to handle the program.  The program is a bit of a memory hog, and if you've got a number of programs already loaded, then it may cause your phone's software operating system to crash.  As long as you have a normal installation, however, you should be fine. 

The net result, in any event is that if you have sensitive data, then protect it accordingly.  You'll be glad you did, and so will your clients.

            How Deal With Identity Theft

On the off chance that you're either reading this column too late, have a "friend" with the problem or perhaps an unfortunate client, here's some critical information to limit the damage in case identity theft happens to you or someone you know:

1. Cancel your credit cards immediately. The key is having the toll-free numbers and your card numbers handy so you know whom to call.  Keep those where you can find them.  If you still have your credit cards, then put them on your copier and make copies of the front and back. 

2. File a police report immediately in the jurisdiction where your credit cards, etc., were stolen.  This report proves to credit providers you were diligent, and this is a first step toward an investigation (if there ever is one).

But, here's what is perhaps most important of all:

3. Call the three national credit reporting organizations immediately to place a fraud alert on your name and Social Security number. The alert means any company that checks your credit knows your identifying information was stolen, and they should contact you by phone to authorize new credit.

Here are the numbers you need to contact when your wallet, etc., has been stolen:

1. Equifax 888-766-0008. This company has a host of identity theft advice on its website, and lots of links.

2.) Experian (formerly TRW): 888-397-3742.  But do more.  Experian says fraud alerts must be submitted in writing.

3.) Trans Union 800-680-7289. This company also provides an entire fraud page on its website, dedicated to helping you in the event your identity is stolen.

4.) Social Security Administration (fraud line): 877-438-4338. The SSA also has some more identity theft  here.

No matter what happens, be aware of your surroundings, and use technology to protect the technology you do have.

Printer friendly page Permalink Email to a friend Posted by J. Craig Williams on Tuesday, December 19, 2006 at 15:03 Comments Closed (0) |
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