What to Do When Your Laptop Is Stolen


No matter how great your day’s been going, it’s still going to suck when you find out that the shiny black laptop you invested a part of your savings on just vanishes without a trace. Gone are the rainbows and butterflies, replaced with a feeling of disbelief and rage that makes you want to kick things and scream at people.

Embrace the turmoil. Let all the feelings of sadness, frustration, and anger take over so that you can get them all out. Once you’re done with that, it’s time to move on to the next phase of the program.

Top Five Things to Do When Your Laptop Is Stolen

1. Contact the Police

Even if there’s very little chance of recovering your laptop, you still need to inform the police. Filing a police report is the next logical step since it’ll help provide a record of what occurred.

This safeguards you from any possible issues of identity theft in the future. It also guides the police on the patterns and frequencies of these types of thefts. If these incidents are, in fact, rising, then authorities would be more inclined to step in and strengthen their efforts to resolve these incidents.

2. Change Your Passwords

If you do online banking or log onto your email a lot, chances are, you probably have your passwords saved on email websites and applications.

What about the passwords to your social media accounts and the sites where you work? All these were compromised the moment someone decided to steal your laptop. Change them right away.

Even if your computer was “password protected”, you shouldn’t take any chances. Changing your passwords give you peace of mind and protect you from future thefts.

3. Cancel Credit Cards Used in Online Transactions

Online shopping’s pretty popular these days, so it wouldn’t really be a surprise if you bought a few stuff online using your credit card. Even if you’ve done this only once, call the credit card company immediately and have them cancel your card. Also, even if you’re sure your number wasn’t saved anywhere, you should still do it. Never take the risk.

If all this is keeping you from sleeping, you may want to subscribe to a service that offers protection from identity theft. This way, you’ll be sure that your personal info wasn’t compromised in any way.

4. Tell Your Clients Immediately

If you’ve stored some of your clients’ personal information on your stolen laptop, notify them immediately. Passwords, access to websites, and other sensitive information should be changed right away, so make sure this is one of the first things you do.

If you backed up all that data, then good on you! Assure your clients that everything is fine. As for you—you may be in a lot of trouble right now, but you’ll end up being okay, too.

5. Keep an Eye on Your Local Pawn Shops, Craigslist, and eBay

For how good some thieves are at stealing, they sure don’t do an excellent job of making sure they don’t get caught. In the coming weeks, make it a point to check sites like Craigslist and eBay to see if someone’s been trying to sell off your computer. There’s also a slim chance that the thief may have pawned off the laptop in one of the local shops. Keep an eye out for your stuff in these shops, as well.

Protect Yourself Better

The only thing better than knowing none of your personal information has been compromised is making sure it doesn’t end up in the wrong hands in the first place. Read more here for an overview of these preventative measures.

  • Back your data up regularly. Any responsible web user these days backs up their machine. Make it a point to store sensitive information in an external hard drive and protect yourself from data loss.
  • Invest in a software tracker. If there’s some serious, life-altering information on your laptop, invest in really good tracking software, pronto. Some manufacturers will actually present you with some options upon purchase. Don’t hesitate to check them out.
  • Encrypt your information. You aren’t likely to retrieve information once it’s stolen, but you can keep thieves from accessing it. Laptops usually have a pre-configured encryption system that owners can take advantage of. This makes it close to impossible for anyone to get information off your machine.

Final Thoughts

While we do everything we can to protect our laptops, if someone’s determined to steal it, and it actually ends up getting stolen, it won’t totally be our fault. We are, however, hugely to blame, if the sensitive information in our machines is accessed by thieves and used against the people we work for or us.

Our laptops are valuable assets, and so it does hurt when they get stolen. But what’s going to end up hurting more, in the long run, is when our identities are compromised. Yes, let’s put effort into making sure our laptops don’t end up in the wrong hands but let’s not forget to put just as much effort into making sure no one can access information from our machines and put us in a vulnerable position.

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