Since 2005, nearly 600 million records have been improperly accessed through data breaches caused by hacking, physical file theft, lost unencrypted laptops and back-up devices, negligent posting of personal information by companies and governments and generally Mickey Mouse security protocols, according to Privacy Rights Clearinghouse. Further, in disaster situations like Sandy, oftentimes when homes and vehicles are damaged, destroyed or abandoned, unprotected documents containing sensitive personal information, automobile registrations and credit or debit cards are washed away and become magnets for criminals.
That said, it is imperative to trifurcate this issue:
Let's talk for a moment about damage control.
I had flood insurance. But because my insurance agent insisted, I also got excess flood insurance. That took me from a recovery which would have left me almost naked against the storm to full replacement value. Believe me, that "future me" factor is kicking in big-time right now. You, too, can make choices now that you'll be grateful for later on.
Now, when I talk to people about preparing for the eventuality of identity theft and getting a damage control program in place before disaster hits, they have a hundred reasons for not following my advice. They say it's too expensive. They say they can do it themselves. Unfortunately, though, they're setting themselves up for a fall. This crime and its aftermath can be so complex and the lag time in detection can be so great that consumers find themselves in over their heads and desperate for someone with the expertise to help them navigate these tricky waters.