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The Resource Center Online Security Issues & Protection | article

Safeguarding Electronics During a Move Can Reduce the Risk of Identity Theft

Moving to a new apartment or home can be exhausting. From going through possessions and packing them away to hiring a moving company and staying organized, the process is often taxing, with individuals having to focus on a million small projects at the same time.

In some cases, a person may think he or she has packed something valuable away, such as a smartphone or computer, when really it’s been misplaced, or even stolen. By the time the individual finds out the item is missing, it may already be too late. He or she may now be at risk for identity theft.

With individuals storing an increased amount of important personal and financial data on their smartphones and laptops, some identity thieves have narrowed their schemes to pilfering these possessions. Thieves who are able to obtain people’s personal details can then use them to commit credit fraud or receive medical treatments — both of which could directly and indirectly affect victims’ credit reports and scores.

Homeowners who may have lost or had their devices stolen during their move may benefit from taking the following steps to reduce the possibility of identity theft:

Change Usernames and Passwords for Online Accounts
A 2010 American Bankers Association survey found that bank customers preferred handling their accounts online more than through any other medium. With many of these individuals opting to save their account information on their Web browsers for easier access, thieves who steal a person's computer or smartphone may be able to log in to his or her bank and access financial information. Not only may this lead to damage to credit reports and scores, but thieves may accumulate enough other personal information to then commit identity theft.

To prevent this from happening, individuals should change their login details for all of their online accounts — not just their banking information — as soon as they learn their devices may have been compromised.

Check Credit Reports and Scores and Review Credit Protection Services
Immediately after learning a smartphone or laptop has been stolen, consumers should make sure to check their credit reports and scores to look for signs of fraud. Even if individuals don’t spot any fraudulent items on their records, they may still want to consider enrolling in a credit or fraud protection program to keep tabs on their accounts. Having these security alerts in place may allow people keep their attention focused on their major life change.