Computers have become such a major part of who we are and everything that we do. We purchase cars on the Internet, we balance our finances, write papers, and communicate with each other through the Internet. Our lives have become dependent on computers and most of us like the sheer amount of freedom and ease that comes with using them. However, there is a certain danger always associated with using only one machine for everything. We have become so dependent on our computers for everything that we do, that if we were to lose them we would be in serious trouble. Imagine if you lost your personal computer today what would you do? Do you have your personal information stored in other places? Also, do you have important information related to your identity on your computer? Could your credit card number or bank numbers be somewhere in your computer?
Many people don’t realize that if your computer is stolen someone might have stolen your identity as well. So how can you protect yourself from having your identity stolen when your computer is stolen?
The first way to ensure that your identity is not stolen with your computer is to take all personal information off your computer. Although a crook can take your homework or your poetry, if you make it a rule not to leave financial information on the computer you will avoid having your identity stolen. This is especially important when it comes to credit card information that could have been programed to automatically show up on purchase sites. For example, if you use the same credit card over and over again at a particular site it often remembers the number so that you don’t have to type it in every time you buy something. This can be very handy but also problematic if someone steals your computer. You might respond that they would need to break into your company account in order to get this information, but if your computer automatically remembers login information it could be very easy to get at your credit card numbers.
Also, if you have stored emails with personal information these can be easily searched for any information that might turn a profit. Obviously you want to use the highest level of security on your computer and you don’t want to have sites automatically remember passwords or credit card information. You should be given the option to prevent this from happening when you use the sites. The best rule, however, is to stop putting personal information on the machine. Don’t send credit card information through emails or store it anywhere on your computer. Don’t write your social security number in any of the documents on your computer and make sure that everything is password protected. If you need to keep personal information in an electronic format for some reason, save it to a disk and keep it in a hidden location in your home.
With all of our lives based on one computer we are likely to lose everything if that computer is stolen. You can prevent this from happening by keeping personal information off the computer. Losing the power to write emails, type papers, or balance a checkbook easily is an annoyance, but it is much less serious than losing the ability to control your money or your identity. Help to fight the war against identity theft by keeping personal information where it should be. Use your computer wisely and don’t assume that it will be there when you get back from the bathroom.