Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Protecting Your Identity in Emergency Situations

Many consumers are taking the necessary steps to protect their identity. One thing a lot of us do not think about is how to protect ourselves during an emergency situation. These situations can include things like hurricanes, tornadoes, earthquakes, fires or even man-made disasters. During these times there is typically a lot of chaos, but there are a lot of thieves that take advantage of those situations. They will break into your home, steal your personal belongings, and even steal items so that they can use your identity. To help protect yourself from identity theft in a moment of chaos, there are a few steps that every consumer should take:

Every consumer should be prepared for a possible evacuation. Whether you are in a fire zone or a secluded area where disasters rarely happen, you need to be prepared. There are specific items that you should store photocopies of in a large envelope or secured lock box.

* Birth certificates
* Current photograph
* Copies of your driver’s license
* Copies of your social security card
* Any death certificates in your family
* Insurance papers that should include deeds, property records, and personal insurance records
* Vital records such as marriage certificates, immigration papers, etc.
* Financial account information so that if you need to access them without your debit card, you have the right information on hand
* Any brief medical histories and a copy of medical insurance cards

If your family is going to be evacuated for a disaster or other emergency, there are steps you need to take to ensure your personal information is not exposed to potential thieves:

* Place your envelope or lock box with your copied information in your car only when you are ready to actually evacuate. There are a lot of thieves that will rob or loot vehicles that are left standing during disaster evacuations. You may need these papers to identify yourself in a disaster situation; therefore you need to protect them.

* Keep your envelope or lock box within your sight at all times. If you are evacuated to a shelter, keep that box with you or with another family member and never let it out of your sight. Never trust anyone except your immediate family to care for this information.

* Another step in protecting your identity during an evacuation is to not leave your computer behind. Many thieves will enter homes after they have been evacuated and steal hard drives or laptops. With those pieces of equipment they can steal your identity. If you are in a time crunch, remove the hard drive from your computer and be sure to package up any laptops to take with you. Hard drives are easy to remove from your desktop and literally can be done within just a few seconds.

Protecting yourself during a disaster is essential for your identity. Though it is a time for tragedy, realize that there are people out there ready to take advantage of such situations. Protect yourself and your family by following the steps in this guide. Be prepared for disaster to strike at any time so you are not caught trying to do these steps in a dire situation. Written by id theft protection.


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