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It's 10:00 PM: Do You Know Where Your Laptop Is?

If you use a laptop and have been lucky enough to avoid theft, you're luckier than a quarter million people were in 1996. That year 265,000 laptops were stolen, 25% more than 1995. Regardless of who paid for the computer, or if you have insurance, you must at least be concerned about your data. For example, if you are one of the ISOs lucky enough to have Heartland Bank provide you a laptop free of charge for their Merchant Application Processing System, you have to remember that your merchants' application data is in that machine, and someone else has it.

As you might guess, the most theft-prone areas include airports, hotels, cars, and restaurants. These are places where business travelers are likely to be, arms laden with parcels, and distracted while trying to navigate through unfamiliar territory.

Even with computer insurance and anti-theft technologies, the FBI reports that 90% of all stolen computers are never retrieved. With sales of laptops doubling in the past two years, that number has nowhere to go but up.

What can you do to avoid being a victim of computer theft? Try the following tips.

First things first

As soon as you get home with your new computer, record the serial number, model and make. Record it with the manufacturer and keep records for yourself. Do not keep the records with the laptop.

An ounce of prevention

1. Back up your data. If your laptop is stolen, no doubt the hardware loss will be terrible but it can be replaced. A loss of data can be devastating to you and your company.

2. If you plan to purchase a cable or lock, find out if there is one manufactured specifically for your brand and model.

3. When parking your car, take your laptop with you. Don't be fooled into thinking the trunk is a safe option. If your laptop does get stolen from your car, most companies won't cover the theft; don't risk it.

 

On the road again

1. On planes, keep the laptop under the seat. In the overhead compartment it is vulnerable to damage and theft.

2. When traveling, especially in airports, don't turn your back on your computer for a moment. Take it with you to the restroom, restaurants, anywhere you go. If you are stopped at a metal detector, ask the attendant to assure that your laptop is secure.

 

If you are the victim of theft

Having insurance may soften the trauma of theft. Some insurance companies are:

 

Lititz Mutual Insurance Company
800-626-4751
http://www.lititzmutual.com/policies/home_comp.htm
 
 
Utica National Insurance
800-933-1914
http://www.uticanat.com/hci.html
 
 
RLI Insurance Co.
309-692-1000

 

Ignore the instinct to call your employer first. First call the police. Then call your office and the insurance company, and then report it to the authorities where the theft occurred.