Having your laptop stolen can be costly and pose a significant threat to your digital security. The consequences of having your laptop stolen depend on the thief that got their hands on your laptop. Some petty thieves would pawn your laptop, while some may hack into your accounts to steal your identity or funds. So, what do you do to prevent this when your laptop is stolen?
Reporting your laptop to the appropriate authority should be your top priority when your laptop is stolen. Next, get your mobile device or any other laptop you can get access to and remotely wipe your laptop. You should also change your password on all your accounts and deauthorize your accounts on the device.
No doubt, it is nerve-wracking realizing your laptop has been stolen. But amidst the situation, try not to panic and act quickly instead. There’s a good chance you may still be able to recover your laptop or, at the very least, safeguard your data. Below are some tips on what to do when your laptop is stolen.
Tips on What To Do When Your Laptop Is Stolen
- Tip #1: Use GPS To Track Your Laptop’s Location
- Tip #2: Make a Police Report
- Tip #3: Lock or Wipe the Data on Your Laptop
- Tip #4: Change Passwords on Your Accounts
- Tip #5: Notify Your Financial Institutions
- Tip #6: Turn Off Browser-Sync
- Tip #7: Clear Autofill From Your Browsers
- Tip #8: Deauthorize Your Accounts on the Laptop
Tips on What To Do When Your Laptop Is Stolen
No one expects or wishes their laptop to get stolen. But taking steps to protect your laptop before it is stolen can save you a lot of hassle if it does get stolen. These steps include encrypting your data, having a current backup file, and enabling the laptop tracking feature. Having all these in place can minimize the security risks if your laptop gets stolen.
Below are some tips on what to do when your laptop is stolen.
Tip #1: Use GPS To Track Your Laptop’s Location
If you have a tracking system enabled on your laptop, immediately checking it might save you much hassle. When you notice your laptop is missing, check the last known location of your laptop with the tracking system. For Mac, go to the Find My app on your smartphone or another Mac to track your stolen Mac.
Using GPS to track your laptop might not be very reliable, but it gives you an advantage in finding the culprit that stole your laptop and your laptop. With some built-in tracking systems, you can access the laptop’s lock and erase it remotely.
Tip #2: Make a Police Report
Based on your findings with the tracking system, make a full police report on the incident. Whether you successfully get a location from the tracking system or not, giving a full report to the police might help track down the culprit and find your laptop.
Perhaps if the laptop is discovered in another crime or inquiry, it will be returned to you. However, do not expect the police to go out of their way to find your laptop. Nevertheless, filing a stolen laptop report increases your chances of recovering it.
Tip #3: Lock or Wipe the Data on Your Laptop
If there is little hope that you can regain your laptop, you might want to use remote access to the computer to lock it. Doing this protects your personal and important data from being accessed by the culprit that stole your laptop. If there is no hope of getting the laptop back, you should just wipe the laptop clean.
Wiping your laptop clean is an effective way to protect yourself from letting your sensitive files get into the wrong hands. However, it also means that you will lose your data permanently if you do not have a backup.
Tip #4: Change Passwords on Your Accounts
Most security experts recommend that you should change the passwords on your accounts. This is because if the culprit that stole your laptop for any reason can bypass the security on your laptop, they can access all your online accounts.
Changing the passwords on your account when your laptop is stolen is especially important if you use your browser or device’s keychain to autofill your password and username. You should start by changing the password on your email and then enable two-factor authentication for added security.
Tip #5: Notify Your Financial Institutions
It also makes sense to notify your financial institution if your laptop is stolen. Contact your financial institution and ask them to temporarily hold your accounts. Doing this protects your funds if the culprit attempts to perform a transaction with your financial information on your laptop.
You should also freeze things like your debit and credit cards and let your financial institution know the possibility of suspicious activity on your account. So, keep a close eye on your account activity every few days.
Tip #6: Turn Off Browser-Sync
Enabling browser sync is quite a convenient feature, but it is not so much fun when your laptop is stolen. The reason is that when this feature is enabled, any changes you make to your account, such as changing passwords, etc., will automatically sync with the account on your laptop.
You can turn off auto sync on your accounts when you sign in to your account on your browser. On Chrome, for example, when you sign in to your Gmail account, open “Settings”, tap on “Manage Sync”, select “Encrypt All Sync”, choose a password, and save changes.
Tip #7: Clear Autofill From Your Browsers
Auto-fill is like the auto-sync feature. If you have this feature enabled on your web browser, it makes it easier for you to log in to your accounts. In other words, whoever stole your laptop can also log in to your accounts.
If you use Chrome, you can change this autofill option in the “Settings” folder, tap on “Passwords”, and then toggle the auto-off sign-in feature. It helps to clear all browser history and saved passwords from all your devices linked to the account. Do this for other browsers.
Tip #8: Deauthorize Your Accounts on the Laptop
If you have set your laptop as a trusted device, it can cause problems if it gets stolen as it gives the culprit access to your accounts. Thankfully, you can deauthorize your laptop access to your online services remotely so that you can secure your accounts.
On a Mac PC, log into your Apple ID and remove your devices logged into your account. And if you are using a Windows PC with Chrome as your main browser, log into your Google account and remove your computer from the list of trusted devices. Also, don’t forget to deregister your laptop from access to your Amazon account, Facebook, and other social media platforms.
Having your laptop stolen is never easy, but keeping a copy of your receipt and serial number would come in handy in a situation such as this to prove ownership of the laptop, claim insurance, or even track the laptop.
It’s a pretty nerve-wracking experience when your laptop is stolen. However, having your laptop stolen and finding out that the culprit is using it to access your accounts is even more unsettling. Hence, when your laptop is stolen, it is crucial to use the tips elaborated above to safeguard yourself. And if you have insurance that covers theft, now would be a good time to claim it.