HELP! (Theft of our info)
August 26, 2012 10:55 AM   Subscribe

Burglary - 2 computers, and ALL of our documents. What steps to take?

We had a break-in, and they got MacBooks belonging to both my wife and I, and, more troubling, a fireproof box with ALL of our documents, including, birth certificates, car title, passports, and probably Wife's SS card. I have notified Equifax, who say that they will forward this to Experian and TransUnion. Changed all email passwords, cancelled credit cards, notified Credit Union.

Tomorrow will notify Passport agency and Social Security office. Will apply for replacement birth certificates and car title.

What else to do need to do, other than to keep a watchful eye on our accounts?
posted by Danf to Law & Government (13 answers total) 10 users marked this as a favorite
You reported this to the police? After I was mugged, I had several agencies ask for a police report case number.
posted by Houstonian at 11:08 AM on August 26, 2012

Response by poster: Yes. We have the serial #'s for both computers, which the cop said was rare. Will use the police report for insurance claim.

The cop spent about 90 minutes with us, even walked the neighborhood looking for strewn paperwork, which we did not find.

Hopefully it's just kids wanting cash, and they probably took the strongbox without opening it, since the house was a mess, they turned everything over, but none of the contents of that box were found.

But I have to act like it was the KGB that hit my house.
posted by Danf at 11:16 AM on August 26, 2012

There's also your bank (not credit card) account. You can close it and open a new one with a new account number. Tell them what happened, and which dates you have auto-payments. They can watch all activity and pass each one through to the new account when it proves to be legitimate. They can do this for a month, which gives you enough time to change any auto-pays to the new account number.

You might as well ask everyone about what they need, because the timing is hard for recreating all your documents. For example, the Social Security people need a birth certificate. What do the birth certificate folks need? The Passport agency needs something else (that you might not have anymore). Get things in the right order, so you don't waste time at the various offices.

I'd think about what was on those computers, too -- any documents there that you'd rather thieves didn't have?
posted by Houstonian at 11:28 AM on August 26, 2012 [2 favorites]

Response by poster: Well I have changed all the passwords, and now that I think about it, I need to go into TurboTax and change that also.
posted by Danf at 11:30 AM on August 26, 2012

More on the recovery side, if you had any software running on the macs (chat, dropbox, dyndns, etc) where you could track down its IP address while it's on, you might be able to expedite recovery (story starts around 3:15; a little bit of swearing) with the help of the police. There's a lot of stories online about people that have recovered their macs this way (although normally it's helpful to have programs like Hidden, etc installed beforehand). I just wanted to mention this because many thieves never think about wiping/reloading. I hope that you can find similar luck!
posted by samsara at 11:46 AM on August 26, 2012

I would also recommend researching and choosing an identity theft monitoring service life LifeLock.
posted by Th!nk at 11:52 AM on August 26, 2012

Take this time to make your home even less attractive to thieves. Anything from leaving a radio or TV on when you leave the house, to motion-sensitive lights. Make sure they didn't take a spare set of keys hidden on the hallway table or hung up in the kitchen or wherever.

You can ask the police to put you on their route for a drive-by check every day/night for the next week or two. They just drive by and take a look.

Be ok with yourself. It can be upsetting or make you feel jumpy or angry -- it's weirdly emotional. If you have kids, they'll need some extra support in processing this (or maybe not) but it's totally ok to be a little freaked out for a while. (I say this as someone who has been mugged at gunpoint twice, had a peeping tom, and had mail fraud from my postal worker -- each time was kinda emotional although less so after each subsequent event.)
posted by Houstonian at 11:59 AM on August 26, 2012

Best answer: Consider a credit lock so that someone can't trivially open a credit using only your name/SSAN.

With a police report, you should be able to get this implemented free of charge by all three credit reporting bureaus.

Locking (or "freezing") your credit is far more effective than merely putting in an advisory "fraud alert" on your account (which is all a credit agency will do by default, and is also what services like Lifelock rely on).

That the US financial industry doesn't implement the robust authentication of a "credit lock" by default for all consumers is something of a national disgrace, but that's another discussion.
posted by Dimpy at 12:07 PM on August 26, 2012 [1 favorite]

Oh, that sucks. I'm sorry this has happened to you. The only other thing I would suggest is remembering if you have automatic payments with your credit card or bank account. contact them when you get your new information so you won't get annoying messages all month.
posted by anitanita at 12:52 PM on August 26, 2012

If your computers automatically sign into gmail, temporarily change the passwords back to see where the computers connect from. If you scroll down to the bottom of the gmail web interface, there's a link to show the most recent connection IP addresses. If you get one you or the police may be able to find the computer or subpoena the ISP for the user's identity (though don't bet on the police going this far)
posted by zippy at 1:13 PM on August 26, 2012 [1 favorite]

When my (very tattered) CA birth certificate wasn't returnred from an org that required it I wrote to the listed office with my parents' names,mother's maiden name, city of birth and requested fee and was issued a new one without incident.

I also highly reccommend renting a safe deposit box. Many banks will waive the fee if you keep an account of a set amount there. When I arranged for mine the requirement was in the low 5 figures.

When I had to pay for one it was about $40 a year.
posted by brujita at 8:45 PM on August 26, 2012 [1 favorite]

Also have your wife notify SS about the stolen card.
posted by brujita at 8:47 PM on August 26, 2012

Best answer: From the FTC: If Your Information Has Been Compromised, But Not Yet Misused.

From Here's a checklist of things to do if you are the victim of identity theft (you can have a look in case there's something you may have overlooked).

Here's something from the site:
If the stolen information includes your Social Security number, call the toll-free fraud number of any one of the three nationwide consumer reporting companies and place an initial fraud alert on your credit reports. This alert can help stop someone from opening new credit accounts in your name.

Equifax: 1-800-525-6285;; P.O. Box 740241, Atlanta, GA 30374-0241

Experian: 1-888-EXPERIAN (397-3742);; P.O. Box 2002, Allen, TX 75013

TransUnion: 1-800-680-7289;; Fraud Victim Assistance Division, P.O. Box 6790, Fullerton, CA 92834-6790
More about fraud alerts and identity theft reports (and some more) elsewhere on the site.

(Also, I agree with Dimpy about Lifelock: Lifelock Dinged $12 Million for Deceptive Business Practices, so maybe not so good.)
posted by taz at 3:11 AM on August 27, 2012

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