In light of the devastation and havoc that Hurricane Sandy wreaked on the east coast, I wanted to share precautions and steps to take to help protect an often forgotten possession just before a natural disaster occurs. Your identity is thought to be a given until you have to prove who you are when asking for governmental assistance after a hurricane, or trying to come to the aid of a deceased relative’s kids who don’t have proper identification in place. When preparing for natural disaster, most gather together items such as flashlights, batteries, water, and food. But, during and after a flood, hurricane, earthquake, fire or tornado, the safety of your identity is extremely important.
Beside the fact that you are more vulnerable to identity theft when these events occur, important personally identifiable information can be destroyed ,lost, blown away, burned, washed away or just thrown away because it was thought to be unusable. Real effort should be given to the safety of your identity and that of your family before a natural disaster occurs. Here are few of the ways Kroll, the leading risk management company in the world, says you can better prepare for an emergency when it comes to the safety of your identity.
• Make sure personal documents such as driver’s license and proof of insurance are up-to-date.
• Destroy any old or out-of-date documents that are no longer needed such as old tax returns or other financial records which contain your personally identifiable information.
• Organize and inventory the documents you have kept. You should list where PII(personally identifiable information) are and what documents are represented where. Describe any containers but, do not list any identifiers such as SSN. Be sure to keep your list in a secure location.
• Types of documents to include in your list
o Driver’s license
o Birth certificate
o Social Security cards
o List of prescriptions and doctors
o Financial documents
o Insurance policies
o Car titles
o Electronic devices such as computers, flash drives and phones may also contain PII
Store these items in protective containers and in secure locations at home, safety deposit boxes, or a trusted relative’s home. Inform family members of where you have stored these items. Also, be mindful that if the locations you’ve chosen are threatened, it could still be difficult to obtain your PII when needed. For more information on how to protect your identity, visit sbbsm.com or call 919-302-8849. Good luck and be safe.