“What if I lose this?”
That’s the question I should’ve asked myself more often. I hope you will ask the question now so that you don’t get caught after the fact.
I came back from work one evening only to see my home was broken into. Burglars smashed a window and climbed in. They rummaged through my cabinets and drawers, dumping everything on the floor. I was told by the police they were looking for cash, guns, and jewelry.
They were very thorough. They pulled empty shoe boxes down from the top shelf in my closet. They pulled out a cookie jar from the deep end of my kitchen cabinet just to see if I hid something in it. They found letters I wrote to my wife years ago which I didn’t even know she kept.
In the end they took our Social Security cards, some leftover foreign currencies from our trips to Europe and Canada, a prepaid card with a little bit of money on them, another credit card we sidelined, a grocery store gift card, our national park pass, our stash of paper I Bonds, and, what concerns me the most, our extra door key and car keys. I can’t fathom why they took the keys unless they were going to make a repeat visit.
I was not prepared for this at all. It was my fault. When we pay attention to digital security with strong passwords, security questions and answers, two-factor authentication and what not, the more obvious vulnerability is actually in our physical security. What separated my home and the burglars was just glass.
After spending days on cleaning up the mess and thinking about what I could’ve done better, I came up with these lessons.
Lock and Alarm
Prevention is of course always the best. The police told me even putting a small lock on the side gate will help. The truly determined can always get in but adding a small degree of difficulty may just discourage them enough from trying.
I bought programmable light switches. They will turn on lights at random times to create an impression the home is occupied when we are away.
I ordered the SimpliSafe home security system. The set of equipment cost about $400. Monitoring will cost $15/month. It’s another expense and a hassle to arm and disarm, but you just hope it’s enough to scare the burglars away once the alarm is triggered.
Safe Deposit Box
I also got a safe deposit box at a bank. They can’t take what I don’t keep in my home. Even though U.S. Treasury will replace lost or stolen paper savings bonds, I shouldn’t have kept those bonds in my home.
Getting a safe deposit box was actually more difficult than I thought. In theory every bank offers them. When I actually wanted one, several bank branches near me all said their boxes were all taken. It’s a sign the boxes are priced too low. I finally found one. It costs $3/month.
The burglars didn’t take my laptops this time but they very well could. It means I need to beef up my backup system. I can lose the hardware but I don’t want to lose the files.
I put files that don’t change (old photos) onto an external hard drive. It will serve as my archive. I put it into the safe deposit box. I bought an ultra-compact USB flash drive smaller than the size of a nickel for my daily backups of new and changed files. I plugged it into the back of my router. If thieves take my laptops I figure they probably won’t bother with my router. The 128GB flash drive only costs $35. It’s large enough for incremental files. Then once a year I will move a new batch of files to the archive.
I already upload important electronic documents to FidSafe but I haven’t done so with paper documents I already have. I will go through what I have left and digitize the important ones.
I have a Brother all-in-one laser printer with scanner. It works well enough for me. A smartphone app or simply taking a picture with your phone can also work.
I heard about credit freeze but I had been lazy. Now that they stole our Social Security cards, I froze our credit with all three major credit bureaus. Here are the links:
Costs vary by state. For us it’s $10 per person per bureau to freeze and another $10 each to thaw when needed. It’s going to make opening new accounts more difficult. That’s the price you pay.
Social Security Administration uses the identification service from a credit bureau in setting up your my Social Security account online. It doesn’t work when you have a credit freeze. Maybe create your my Social Security account online first before you freeze your credit. Otherwise you’d have to present yourself at a local Social Security office.
Because I didn’t take the prevention steps I had to do damage control after the fact. Replacing the window glasses cost a few hundred dollars. Replacing the door lock was easy enough. Getting new car keys and reprogramming the cars to “forget” the stolen keys cost another few hundred dollars. I filed forms with the Treasury Department to have our stolen I Bonds replaced as electronic bonds in our TreasuryDirect accounts. I went to the local Social Security office to request a replacement Social Security card. I notified the banks of unauthorized charges on our credit card and prepaid card.
The burglars are local. I could see where they went shopping from the unauthorized charges. They ate at fast food restaurants. They bought jeans. They rented DVDs from Redbox. They bought acne treatment products (really??) from a kiosk. Several charges listed a phone number from which the charges were incurred. It’s likely a burglar’s phone number.
Residential burglary is a felony in my state, punishable by 2-6 years in a state prison. If the police really want to catch the burglars they can probably trace them from those transactions. Of course the criminals know the police are busy with more serious crimes. They are not afraid at all to leave traces all over.
Losing the sense of physical security is terrible. Have you been a victim of a crime? What else do you think I should do?
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muskoka jewelry says
Consider installing a fireproof safe in your home. A good quality safe that is bolted down is secure, gives you some fire protection and is inexpensive.
Where can you find a good, fireproof, real safe? So many fire-resistant safes on the market are nothing more than “Safe Shaped Objects” that would provide little to no protection against fires OR burglars.
Sorry to hear this happened to you ! I’m a long time reader of your blog (first time comment here), and recently a victim of identity theft myself. Not sure if the thief will have any further action other than using your credit cards to buy acne creams…but since they took your social security card, I recommend besides credit freeze, also looking into filing a report with http://www.identitytheft.gov. Since you probably file tax this year already, for next year’s filing, consider file this with the IRS and get a tax filing pin. https://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-pdf/f14039.pdf. hope the damages are limited to the physical aspect, and no further issue (identity theft related) surface in the future.
Harry Sit says
Thank you for the info on IdentityTheft.gov and the IRS tax filing PIN. I will request the PIN.
Just to reiterate this point about the PIN from the IRS for those who may not be aware, a VERY common scam used with stolen SS numbers is to file as early as the IRS accepts returns, claiming all sorts of refundable credits, etc. Then, when the actual owner of the SS number tries to e-file through TurboTax or similar, their return is rejected, and then the pain begins.
Mrs. Picky Pincher says
Oh nooooo! I’m so sorry this happened. 🙁 I’ve had my cars broken into plenty but I’ve been fortunate to not have my home broken into (knock on wood).
But I do have to say that this is not your fault. It’s the fault of the asshats who broke into your house. You aren’t negligent by living in your home and having belongings there. That said, there are things you can do to deter burglars, but the fault is 100% on them for being assholes.
Mark Zoril says
Sorry to hear about this Harry. We have a home in what I would consider to be a safe to very safe community in Plymouth MN. However, I have always had an alarm system in this house and in my other houses. I talk with many of my friends and Family and many of them don’t. I really don’t understand why. Breakins happen. Worse, they happen when people are home and assaults happen as well. Why do people wait until something happens to get an alarm system? We use a different system than simplysafe, but I am guessing that it might arm and disarm in a similar way. In my view, it is not a hassle at all! It takes a second or two to deal with and, sure, sometimes we forget and trigger it but so what!
What good has your alarm done you? It may limit the time a thief spends in your house, but it won’t prevent them from breaking in in the first place, and it won’t limit them to the point that they can’t do some real damage and/or thieving.
Even under the “I don’t have to outrun the bear, just you” model, if your neighbors all had alarms, you would be back to just “running” as fast as them.
David D says
Sorry you are going through this. Our neighborhood is seeing some breakins recently. We don’t have an alarm system, just a sign in the yard that we do. Like you, we don’t have anything very valuable in the home. I have the family set up on AllClear ID Fraud Detection. I have it free due to Target’s credit card break. It helps deal with some of the recovery of your money and frees up some of your time. Also, I back everything up to the cloud at all times. I use Microsoft’s OneDrive, but Google Drive works great too. Others are out there, but these are the ones I am familiar with. We use the TurboScan app to take pictures of all important documents and them email them as a pdf or upload them to a folder in the cloud. There a lot of apps that do this.
Thanks for the fidsafe and simplisafe links.
Physician on FIRE says
Ouch. Sorry, man. All that you’ve had to do sounds like a real hassle, but I’ll bet the hassle pales in comparison to the uneasy feeling of having your home violated.
I hope I never have to write such a post. I feel like we live in a relatively safe community, but I realize no place is immune to burglary.
The closest thing I’ve experienced is credit card fraud, but that’s much, much more impersonal and was a very minor hassle.
Sorry to hear that this happened to you.
If you qualify for Bank of America’s Platinum tier member, you can be eligible for a small bank safe deposit box for free. Although, you are right they are hard to come by. But BoA offered at a branch about 10-15 miles from us.
Harry Sit says
That’s the problem. I theoretically qualify for a free safe deposit box from B of A but no branches near me actually have one available. There is no centralized inventory of availability. You just have to call each branch to find out. I didn’t call branches 10-15 miles away. I just settled with paying $3/month to a different bank.
Actually, I did not do it because of the exact same hassle you mentioned. But accidentally discovered that the Customer Service Priority handled calling the branches and discovering inventory for you in a matter of few minutes.
“Call us at 888.888.7937 to speak to a Preferred Rewards specialist.”
1. your computer backup story isn’t good enough. 3 is two, two is one, one is zero. I use an USB stick for ALL my daily personal files, and backup on two portable 1 Terabite HDD at least every month, it takes me about one hour each month. A 1Terabite HDD costs peanuts compared to forever loss of data ($80/a piece). I thus have three recent sets available at any time of everything digital I need. If your computer or USB drive is fried for whatever reasons, the two HDD backups are your last line of defense. My computers are empty (no data on them anywhere), and run only Ubuntu software, with Windows software as backup. Backup your visited internet websites bookmarks too (banking, business, relationships, etc). They can steal my computers, they won’t have my USB since I take it every where I go. The backup HDD are stored in a safe place back home. Structure your files in such a way that they are not a hassle to backup. Create a “business”, “private”, “almost never to backup” etc main directory structure to get to a point where you only have a few sub-directories to regularly manage, and the rest of the sub-directories trees than don’t change much can be reviewed on a monthly / yearly basis for a proper backup. You become very efficient that way. It takes some thinking on how to set it up well, but once it is properly done, it is a breeze.
2. Change your ground floor window glass everywhere to break-in proof versions (laminated plastic sheets glued in between two glass sheets, visibility stays identical to regular glass, but it can’t be broken in using a crow bar or even a gun, so you sleep well). They can’t break in anymore, unless they drill through your keyhole. That takes a lot of time, so your neighbor is now the target and you are off their hurry chase.
3. Install a 5 points door lock system. If burglars manage to get a crow bar near your lock, they are in. With a 5-point system, good luck with that.
4. Put a sticker “police connected alarm installed” or something similar on very visible places (ringer, outside doors) to warn intruders that you aren’t game. Install some 150Watt light spots on higher ground, that can be switched on from inside the house, to illuminate a large outside area in the blink of a eye, so that your perimeter vision is optimal and thieves run away. Spots are the first thing they check for, it means they are targets if they screw up, and can be put in a nasty spot if cops show up unadvertised. Eventually make your light spots activated by movement outside your home (infrared detection), so that they light up if a cat comes along, or a thief. Nothing better than to be warned from afar by suddenly automatically activated garden spotlights.
5. Note down / print out all you absolutely need in case ALL your digital stuff disappears, including phone and stored call numbers. Social security, banking, etc too. Digitize it all too once you have it on paper backups, and back it up three fold on the USB and two portable HDD. And keep it up to date, as a standard operating practice, you get used to it, it ain’t much work if you do it every time when new stuff appears. It will be a lot of work to get there, but once you are there, it wont eat up much time anymore, and you sleep well.
6. Make a printout of your identification papers and everything “legal” that is in your wallet. In case your wallet is stolen, you then have one or several paper copy backups. Put a copy of those things in your car hand storage, so that you can fall back on those if your wallet is stolen while near home. put another copy print out in your travel bags for the same reason. Digitize it and keep it in a sub-sub-directory in the “almost never to backup” main directory, and you are set till the next renewal of those things, once a decade.
7. eventually put an encrypted copy of 6. on a hotmail/gmail/whatever internet accessible email address that allows storage of backup files in the cloud forever, in case you are a victim of theft when overseas, and your consulate is closed till Monday, or worse, foreign cops demand identification and you can’t provide it, because your wallet was just stolen… I have it done as such for many things, and I can immediately show it to anyone demanding proof of identity wherever I am in the world, even if I am stripped naked.
8. Buy second hand stuff, thieves look for new stuff, and decent second hand stuff is much harder to resell….
Even better – set up an automatic off-site back-up system like Crashplan or Dropbox. Manual backups are easy to forget. Also, if you go to your safe deposit box in 2.5 yrs theres a chance the drive wont boot and youre hosed.
I’m a triple jump drive person also.
For those who fear losing sensitive files stored in the cloud to a data breach, the free utility 7-zip allows zipped files to be encrypted and password-protected. Probably not a bad idea for protecting critical files stored on computers and jump drives in one’s house, for that matter.
M. Anderson says
Sorry to hear about the burglary. A couple of points you should be aware of:
1. Most residential burglaries are committed by teenagers who live in you area and who are aged between 14 and 17. Most burglaries are committed during the hours between the time school gets out and the time parents get home. The fact that your credit card was used to purchase acne medications suggests that you were targeted by someone in that age range, or possibly slightly older.
2. The alarm system that you selected (SimpliSafe), like many of the cheapo alarm systems, has a major weakness built in to the design of the system.
Sometimes called “Smash and Crash,” the weakness is the result of the mandatory use of what is called a DIALER DELAY. The DIALER DELAY is a delay between the time that the alarm siren goes off and the time that the alarm actually notifies the authorities. The DIALER DELAY is an ADDITIONAL DELAY above and beyond the delay that you experience when you come in the front door, which is called the ENTRY DELAY. DIALER DELAY is mandated by UL standards in order to reduce the incidents of false alarms.
The DIALER DELAY is often 15 to 30 seconds and allows you time to enter your code without reporting the central station that your alarm has gone off in the event that you inadvertently forget to enter your code when you walk in, or you are required to use an entry that does not have a ENTRY DELAY. Unfortunately, this delay also afford thieves time to come in and disable your alarm system to prevent it from reporting in to the central station. With the alarm you chose, it would simply be a matter of unplugging the alarm system and prying open the battery door on the bottom. The system is easy to find since the siren sounds directly from the same unit.
Some newer, better systems follow a different approach. They report a PENDING ALARM the second that you open ANY door (regardless of whether you are within the ENTRY DELAY or the DIALER DELAY) and then if no cancel is received within the time of the ENTRY DELAY and DIALER DELAY, they assume that you have an alarm and dispatch the authorities. Alarms that support Alarm.com’s cellular reporting system have this protective measure, which they call “Smash and Crash” protection.
Of course, given #1 above, it is unlikely that you would have needed such protection anyway. Since most residential burglaries are committed by unsophisticated teenagers, simply having a SIGN that warns of an alarm, or a siren that sounds once they’re in, is sufficient to deter them.
Harry Sit says
Thank you for the info on dialer delay. I read that the base station doesn’t make any sound until after the notification is sent. I realize it’s not commercial-grade. I just hope it’s enough to thwart the run-of-the-mill intruders.
The fee for placing a security freeze and to thaw it will be waived if you are a victim of identity theft and submit a valid police report to each credit bureau. So you won’t ever have to pay a fee to lift the freeze at any time. Here’s the reference: https://help.equifax.com/app/answers/detail/a_id/75/~/security-freeze-fees-and-requirements
I hope this helps.
Harry Sit says
Thank you. I was in a hurry to freeze our credit so I just paid the $10. It’s not clear to me whether having the Social Security card stolen counts as identity theft or I will have to wait until someone actually uses my identity to do something.
Sorry for what happened to your home. Glad that family is safe and unharmed. Thanks for posting about it. Many lessons learned by you and through you.
Sorry to hear this happened to you. It happened to us, however, we were out of the country at the time. They took an older TV, Stereo and bunch of inexpensive jewelry that had sentimental value. Art, wine and rugs were left in place. They did muddy up the floor/rugs big time. I am glad they did not graffiti the walls (I heard that this is common with teenagers). I felt very insecure for about 6 months… then my head slowly went back to normal. I did install more lights outside (motion activated) and we did get a dog (not because of the burglary). The insurance company wrote a check to replace all the lost items. Interestingly, they appeared to be more distraught about it than us. The police demonstrated very little interest but very systematic approach to it… it seemed like a very routine/repeatable process to them… they just gave us the report # for the insurance company and we never heard from them again.
I heard that you should visit local pawn shops as you may find some of your stuff there in a few days. We did not.
I think that if you submit a police report that your Social Security card is stolen, that may be good enough to get the fees waived. One may argue that it’s stolen for identity-related reason as that’s the function of the card. If the bureau approves, then they can refund your $10 fee for placing the freeze as well as waiving any future thawing fee forever. It’s worth the try. Hope it helps.
M. Anderson says
What you read is not correct. The base station emits a siren about 20 seconds BEFORE it sends the signal. I confirmed this in email exchanges with the company. Whatever you read confused the ENTRY DELAY with the DIALER DELAY.
RE : “I already upload important electronic documents to FidSafe”
What do you consider financial important electronic documents? I personally only back up my AA/Rebalancing/ROR/Networth Excel spreadsheets to the cloud, but they don’t contain anything worth stealing like account numbers or passwords, just years of my work :), so Fidsafe is not neccessary for them I figure. Anything else I need to worry about?
Harry Sit says
Tax forms I downloaded (W-2, 1099, 1098, 5498, …). Tax returns I filed (in pdf and the software’s format). Notes about each account we own. Copy of passports and driver’s licenses. Copy of car titles and mortgage release statements from previous refinances. Paper savings bond serial numbers.
Bummer, sorry to hear about the burglary. As you note, make it even a little difficult and most will move to the next home quickly. The scum of the earth are looking for quick opportunity. Thorny plants in front of fences and windows where possible make a break in a thorny proposition. Also, DOGs are wonderful deterrents.
Sorry to hear this Harry.
You can request for a different,new social security number from ssn office if you want, not sure if your credit gets carried over or not.
Heard few people use this trick to reset their bad credit history.
No personal experience.
Wishing you a safe time ahead
Thanks for the links to the credit reporting agencies.
Under 10 minutes got them all done.
Where do you find safe deposit boxes for $3 a month?
That is dirt cheap compared to the rates where I live.
Harry Sit says
BBVA Compass Bank. See if they have a branch near you.
Stephen L. Nelson CPA says
Sorry Harry. That sucks. 🙁
Sorry to hear of your loss Harry. Crime is on the rise in our neighborhoods in SoCal as well (up 30% yoy). Guarded gates don’t seem to help either as the thieves will come in through backyards or areas that aren’t well protected. There have been several community meeting with the local sheriffs and they recommend always locking your doors (obvious, but people tend to not to do this in gated communities), having cameras (with at least on aimed at the street to pick up getaway cars) and an audible alarm in the house (anything annoying and not easily disabled will work). Most thieves in our area just want property and will avoid confrontations. They are in and out fast. The Ring doorbell cameras work really well according to the sheriffs. Local thieves will often knock on the front door first to confirm no one is home and then go around back to smash a window to get in. They also tend to walk out the front door for whatever reason, so it’s likely the a cameras like the Ring will capture them.
One last bit of advice I haven’t seen mentioned is get to know your neighbors and their routines. Get everyone on the lookout for anything suspicious. Start a neighborhood watch group like in the olden days. There are a number of websites that will send out weekly crime reports to let you know if crime is on the rise.
Finally, to combat mail & id theft, you can sign up for “Informed Delivery” service if available in your zip. It’s a free service provided by the USPS where they email you a scan of all mail to be delivered that day. You can then confirm if you are missing any mail due to theft at the box.
I am a first time poster here. Been following you for some time. I am a female ob/gyn so I have been going out at night for years. I have an alarm but rarely arm it. My dogs make me feel safe. I have a Great Pyrenees/ pit bull mix and no one is coming in my house.
ZJ Thorne says
My group house was broken into while I was in grad school. I was on spring break and happened to be in another city, which I’m really grateful for as I would likely have been asleep when he entered. I had four roommates, and the only people who had jewelry and laptops taken did not have renter’s insurance. We were really creeped out that he’d been in our home, but most homes on our block were hit around that time.
Take a video of each room in your home with your iphone. Then load the videos on a flash drive and put it in your safety deposit box. This will help you itemize what was stolen and also serve as proof for your insurance company if needed. Be sure to open drawers during your video. Also keep a worksheet of the serial numbers of higher cost items on the flash drive.
Was thinking about this more…are you even going to file a report with your insurance company? I know you’ve written prior about high deductibles, which is basically self insuring the small stuff. I take the same approach…at one point my deductible was 16k. Ive since changed insurers and now have a 5k deductible. Is there any point to notifying them but not filing a claim? You wouldn’t want to face a potential premium increase without a benefit.
Harry Sit says
I’m not going to file an insurance claim. I will ask them if they offer a discount once I have the alarm set up.
Sam S says
Harry, what about the many books of checks I get from different banks? I hardly use them. Are they going to the safe deposit box in the Bank or keep them at home? Once again, so sorry to hear about the burglary.
Harry Sit says
If you don’t need them just shred them.
Mike S says
We’ve gone all digital with e-bills and bank/financial statements. Nice not to have to worry about somebody grabbing stuff out of one’s mailbox or finding those documents in one’s home.
Got to echo a lot of what’s already been said: 1) get contents insurance and be honest with the broker as to how much coverage you really need, 2) get a safe installed – these are cheap so there’s that really no excuse, 3) always lock doors and windows when you’re out. Thanks for the great post prompt!
I would also hook a couple of the timers to a radio and TV. Most burglars are also looking for prescription meds in addition to cash, jewelry, guns. Most burglars ARE NOT juveniles playing hooky from school. They’re usually adults and many belong to criminal gangs. They commonly use rental cars and have female drivers, leave a lookout down the street ready to cell phone a warning to the scum in the house. Usually they don’t want a confrontation and knock on the front door before going around to the rear or side and forcing entry.
Sorry to hear this Harry.
On the computer stuff, I had one concept and some tips to add. I run a NAS, which is a similar concept to your USB on the router. In Michigan, we have basements. Thieves don’t like to go in a basement because there is only one way out. So the NAS goes there. Basements tend to flood, so it goes on a shelf off the floor. Once we started with the NAS a few years ago, we start to directly store a lot of files e there. So we can access them from different laptops, etc. Basically a cheap server.
So then I sync the most used files, like excel sheets of our checkbooks to a cloud – Tressorit. Then I can do a quick mod at work if needed.
But on any sync, there are flaws. One is if a source file gets corrupted then the corrupted file gets synced and you are out of luck, and may not know for a long time. At my office, the corruption might be someone just making the wrong change to the file. Or deleting the wrong file.
At the office, the server can retrieve overwritten files, but it is a bit of a pain. But possible. The server has mirroring, so that is solid. But then I target the most important wordprocessing and small files, and copy those to a local drive each Friday with a script. Then I encrypt them (7z) and burn them to DVDs. Each of the attorneys brings one home. That lets us have a backup and access to the files on an as-needed basis. The source folder of the backups on the local drive has a date (e.g., backup 03-17-17). So I can go back and grab a file from a date 6 months ago, decrypt it, and have it ready in a minute or two.
I do something similar with the NAS files, but frankly not often enough. That is way more data. I sync to a local drive regularly, but really should move an encrypted copy off site more often.
Then the pictures on all the smart phones never really get backed up, other than to the phones’s cloud, which may or may not work. I think I’m going to copy those today.
spaceman spiff says
Thanks for sharing your pain. the comments are instructive too.
For the Mac you can create an encrypted folder using the Disk Utility program. The encryption can be set to 128 or 256 bit. Just go to the “File” menu and select “New…”. You can write it to your desktop, backup drive, DVD, or USB stick. After you create it you just copy whatever files you want to it, then eject it. Next time you plug it in it will ask for the password to decrypt it.
Also, I believe Apple’s Time Machine backup is capable of encryption. You can also encrypt the hard drive on your Mac.
As for physical security, motion lights are awesome.
AND here’s something that most people don’t do… replace the 1/2″ screws that hold your deadbolt receiver in place with 3 to 4 inch deck screws that make it into the door frame instead of the trim. Most doors can be forced open with a modest kick. The deck screws into the frame require way more force to overcome. Also replace a few of the hinge screws with deck screws also.
Here’s a great video that illustrates this simple security measure… https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QoYGReXY8FE
Sam S says
Where do u keep 7 years of tax return documents including attachments? In the safe dep box in bank? Or scan & upload to Dropbox cloud? Is the cloud safe? Our safe dep box in bank is tiny, so they might not fit inside. Thanks so much.
Nunuv Yurbiz says
I assume all my electronics will be lost, stolen, or destroyed at some point.
I have security cameras hooked up to my home server (a Mac running OS X Server), connected to Sighthound and SecuritySpy. I have detection zones to notify me if they get tripped. I have the direct phone number for my local police overlayed on my video feeds (on the off chance that I actually end up observing a break in). The server is configured to automatically upload motion detected video clips to the cloud (in case the server gets stolen too), using Hazel. One camera is pointing out the front door, so anyone who comes to the door to test for occupants will know they are being recorded.
All my Macs (i) have a firmware password set, so they can’t boot from another drive, erase the Mac, and have a nice new machine, (ii) have FileVault encryption turned on, so they can’t get to my data, (iii) have automatic login turned off. So between the account password, encryption, and firmware password, a stolen Mac becomes a useless brick.
All my devices have Find my iPhone/Mac turned on. Though, as others have noted, the police won’t do anything.
Do not assume it’s OK to leave upstairs windows unlocked; going through an upstairs window is a favorite these days.
As an aside, I never answer the front door. Years ago I realized nothing good has ever come from answering the door.
I have all my documents mirrored to iCloud.
I use Time Machine to continuously backup to a Time Capsule.
I use iCloud for storing documents for all apps that support it, including using iCloud Photo Library.
I backup my iPhone and iPad to iCloud.
All of this is automatic and transparent.
I scan (ScanSnap) and OCR (PDFPen Pro) everything, and shred it all. All stored in iCloud and backed up via Time Machine.
I think through how I would recover from a total loss of all devices – how I would get back into iCloud, get back into my passwords in 1Password, setup replacement devices, etc.
I have very little jewelry, and cash (that’s what banks and ATMs are for).
Guns are a weak point, though on the upside that might get the police interested in tracking the stuff down.
I have contents insurance.
Question regarding the Equifax data breach. I read this article regarding the various filing options: https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/2019/07/27/equifax-settlement-guide-how-get-money-what-you-need-know/
The “Alternative Reimbursement Compensation” to receive up to 10 years of credit monitoring sounds like a better idea than filing for cash payment (e.g. since unlikely to even get $125). Wanted to ask – what do you think about the option mentioned in that article on “Don’t settle, keep the option to pursue your own legal action in the future”?
Harry Sit says
I put on credit freeze at all major credit bureaus. As far as I can tell besides the time and effort I spent I haven’t suffered other loss from the breach. Of course anything can happen in the future. I doubt I will be able to pinpoint it was due to the Equifax breach and not any other breaches. So I don’t think I will be suing Equifax. If you’d like to preserve your options though, there isn’t much downside either. You won’t get much from the credit monitoring or the cash settlement anyway. Maybe if enough people opt out, the settlement will be revised (I’m not a lawyer).
Credit monitoring notifies you when someone obtains credit in your name. Credit freeze stops that from happening in the first place (assuming it works as advertised).