What to do if your laptop is stolen

What do you do if you’ve just fallen victim to laptop theft? Undoubtedly this is a horrid and upsetting feeling and you’ve probably gone into a state of shock and panic. There are some crucial things you need to action as a priority, so below you will find a helpful list of instructions.

  1. Notify the Police

Firstly call the police to report the stolen device. Phone the non-emergency number 101.
They’ll log everything and provide you with a crime number. The chances of getting a stolen item returned to you is unlikely, but you can register with a service such as Immobilise.

Immobilise helps police identify the owners of recovered property, meaning in the event it later turns up as part of another police investigation, you may be fortunate enough to have it returned to you.

2. Remotely delete your data using a tracking app

Prey is a piece of anti theft protection software which allows you to track your device and remotely delete your data. If you have an Apple device you can turn on the “Find My Mac” option in the iCloud settings, then track it and delete the hard drive.

3. Get the device blocked

Contact the manufacturer of the laptop (e.g. Apple) to notify them of the situation and see if they can block the machine from being used. They will most likely need you to provide them with the computer serial number so it’s worthwhile having a quick look to find the receipt / purchase details.

4.  Change ALL of your passwords

It’s so important that you change all of your passwords.

This includes:

  • Email passwords
  • PayPal
  • Online banking
  • Social media (Facebook, Twitter etc)
  • Any online shops such as Amazon

Change your passwords for any online store where you have signed up to, from online food shopping to clothes stores.

5) Remotely sign out of all web sessions

Be sure to log out of any online sessions you may have left running on your stolen device. Do this as soon as you can get access to another device to remotely log yourself out. You’ll need to select the option which is usually along the lines of “sign out of all other web sessions”.

6) Insurance

Phone your insurance company to see if the laptop is covered under your buildings and contents policy.

Precautions to take thereafter:

Once you have actioned all of the above here’s what to do moving forward:

1) Ensure you write your full name and contact details on your computer with a UV pen

2) Take note of your serial number and keep a hard copy of this in a safe place at home

3) Take a photo of your computer

4) Get it insured and check if your gadgets are covered for street theft too

5) Install Prey anti-theft protection software across all of your devices

6) Encrypt your devices. Just because you have a log on password for the computer this doesn’t mean that people won’t be able to access it if stolen. There are ways to get around the password so you really need to add an additional layer of security. The best way to do this is to encrypt your device. Click here to read our blog about encryption .

7) Get set up with a cloud back up so that you can rest assured that your data is stored safely and securely in the cloud should the worst happen

8) Invest in a laptop lock and secure it to your desk at home or when out in public

9) Protect yourself from identity fraud. If you had personal emails or files on your machine then you’re exposed to identity theft.

Don’t panic, here’s how you can help protect yourself:

  • The fraud prevention agency CIFAS offers an Identity Protection service for £20 for 2 years. A warning flag is put against your details on the National Fraud Database and notifies any organisation that uses CIFAS data to be extra attentive when your details are used to apply for their products or services.
  • Regularly monitor your bank statements. Thoroughly check through your transactions to spot any suspicious activity. If you’re concerned about a payment which doesn’t appear familiar contact your bank immediately, no matter how small the payment is for. Criminals sometimes set up small payments in the hope you won’t notice or pay attention to them.

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