Moving Precautions for the Security Paranoid Types

Published: 2005-06-19
Last Updated: 2005-06-20 04:37:40 UTC
by Lorna Hutcheson (Version: 1)
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Well, it has been a very quiet day for me as the Handler on Duty. As such, its hard to come up with a diary entry when its been quiet like this. At the
recommendation of fellow handler Scott Fendley and in light of the recent breaches in security for credit card companies and the concern for identity theft, I decided to focus this diary on a recent experience of mine.....a cross country move.

Our family has just transplanted ourselves from Arizona to West Virginia. Yes, we were quite the gaggle moving cross country in two vehicles. My husband in the lead in one vehicle pulling a Uhaul and a cat riding shotgun with him. I however followed in the other vehicle with four kids (ages 10 and under), three dogs and three fish. We got hammered by a massive hailstorm in Texas and had a Tornado barely miss us. It was quite an adventure and being prepared is very key. This move brought up alot of things that need to be considered to help protect against identity theft and to deal with natural disaster. Some of them take time, but they are well worth it and I wish I would have done some of them looking back now. These are things that I was concerned about with the move and things that hopefully will help someone else out.

Identity Theft

For us, prepping to move meant alot of people we didn't know coming in and out of our house. We only had a short time frame to move once we were notified of
my husband getting accepted for a job he applied for. As such, we had a cleaning team coming in, workers doing repairs around the house (with four kids??? there might have been a few minor repairs needed:>), painters, movers, real estate agents showing the house to people etc. It was absolute chaos and
impossible to monitor the activities of everyone that is there all the time. Here are some things to consider before people start showing up:

1. If there is time, go through all your documents and shred what you don't need. Its a good time for getting rid of things that aren't important. Make
sure you SHRED anything with personal information on it.

2. Make sure any bank statements, bills or any documents with personal/financial information are put away securely (to include jewelry and other valuables). It only takes a second for someone to see one laying out or open a desk drawer and grab a bank statement.

3. Also don't allow the movers to pack any financial documents, bills, tax statements etc. We transported those with us personally. It is too easy to have taken out of a box later when your not around or copy the information and then just put it back. You also don't know when you might need them along the way and what if that very box is the one that disappeared while movers transported it.

4. I would also make sure you have all of the SSN cards for family members, birth certificates, insurance documents, extra checks, etc are kept where you can get to them. In an emergency you don't want them packed at the very bottom of the stack. Just keep them in a secure place in the vehicle and take them into the hotel room with you at night.

5. Make sure all local bank accounts are closed if you aren't planning on keeping the bank as your banking center. If you do it in person, you can get the paperwork showing it was closed. Also, keep good records of any other accounts closed and bills payed. If you are switching banks, make sure your auto-drafts/auto-deposits all are changed and are pointing to the right account.

6. Don't forget to change your mailing address and/or put your mail on hold. If possible, have this go into effect a couple of days before you leave to ensure that mail isn't still being delivered. You don't want someone else getting your mail after they see you have gone. Especially junk mail for credit card offers etc. I would also recommend a credit check a month or two after you get to your destination to make sure that everything looks okay.

7. Transport your computer(s) with you. If your like most folks, my family included, you probably use Quicken or some other software to track your fiances etc. The last thing you need is to have your computer disappear with that kind of information on it whether by letting movers pack it or stolen from your vehicle (don't leave computer equipment in plain sight). You might want to just take your hard drive with you, but I wanted my whole network with me to have it available when I arrived. After all, isn't that the first thing everybody sets up? I'm sitting in a hotel right now typing this diary entry with my network happily set up around me while we wait for household goods to arrive. Its also handy if you pay bills online to make sure nothing is late. I would also make a couple (yes more than one) backups of the hard drive in case of an unforeseen natural disaster and/or accident occurring. Which leads me to my next area....

Natural Disasters/Accidents

You never can plan for when an accident happens or a natural disaster strikes. These are some things you can do to be prepared for them if they happen to happen to you.

1. Make sure all adults/older kids know where all the critical information is located like insurance cards, emergency phone numbers, insurance policies. Things can be very confusing in an emergency, but it is very important to have key things written down and have everyone know where things are located before you start your adventure. I would also send a copy to a trusted relative or two just so someone else has it as a back up.

2. You never can tell what can happen, so make sure your wills are updated and in a safe place where trusted folks have copies and/or know where they are.

3. Keep an emergency kit in your vehicle geared toward what you might encounter and know ahead of time what the weather may or may not do. We did this and still hit very bad weather. Research ahead of time the route your traveling and what you might encounter along the way. We went from the dangers of living in the desert right into tornado alley at a very active time of the year. Charged cells phones are critical here (trust me, ours became our life line during our adventure). Make sure you have your car charger with you.

4. Stay alert, make sure someone knows your route you plan on driving and pull over if your tired.

Okay, I could keep going on and on, but I'll stop for now. A move is a major event and protecting yourself is important. I hope this helps someone out there and if anyone has something that I missed that is important and could help folks protect themselves from identity theft and/or to be prepared in case of an accident or natural disaster. Even if your not moving, some of the points above will apply regardless and can help you to stay prepared.

I hope all of you dads out there had a wonderful Father's Day!

Lorna Hutcheson

Handler on Duty
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