Have you ever “lost” your keys in the front door, overnight? Talk about being vulnerable and not knowing it. Identity theft can be like that. It could happen to you—but you can avoid it. Disasters are an identity thief, and criminal thefts are higher during disasters too. So be vigilant about protecting your identity and being able to prove who you are.
I’ve made photocopies of my license, front and back, and keep them in my wallet, home, office, and car. If you lose or forget your license, copies are cheap and quick insurance for personal identification.
Take pictures of your home, inside and out, for insurance claims. Keep up-to-date pictures of your children in case you’re separated. But don’t do it with an iPhone. It will be useless, along with all your other electronic devices, in the event of an EMP attack or even a prolonged power outage. Lithium batteries are getting better, but they still don’t last forever. Print your pictures out or—imagine this—get them developed.
Keep your serious money—your investable assets—with Fidelity Investments or the Vanguard Group. Both have industry-leading disaster preparation plans. It’s hard to believe any firm has a better network of back-office support than Fidelity or Vanguard.
I have a checking account with my local bank, BankNewport. I called them up this week and asked about their disaster preparation plans. A bank supervisor assured me that the bank does have a plan, and that it is reviewed regularly. I also spoke to the person in charge of DR planning, who told me everything I needed to know to remain a customer for life. One of the many questions I asked was about customer access to safety deposit boxes if, by chance, the power goes out. He ran through the procedure, and I opened a safety deposit box account this morning. I also upgraded my checking to “Generations Gold” with identity theft protection.
Do you know how your bank is prepared for a disaster situation? You should give them a call and ask.
In any event, I figure it can’t hurt to have copies of my important documents both in a safety deposit box and at home. Servers and cloud computing are great, but having physical documents makes me feel more in control. As an aside, the standard deposit insurance amount is $250,000 per depositor, per insured bank, for each account ownership category. The FDIC has you covered up to that amount per depositor, per insured bank, for each account ownership category—then there’s a lot of gray area.
Your spouse may raise his or her eyebrows at these efforts to get your ducks in a row. But it’s a relatively low-cost way to protect your family’s identity both personally and financially. It’s actually fun too.