So last night, some thieving, bottom-feeding piece of shit kicked the window of my condo, climbed inside and took off with my 360, all my games, and my laptop that has all of my personal information of the last several years on it.
After I called the police and got over my initial shock, I reverted into the aspect of my personality I’m most in touch with and best at functioning under: Get-Shit-Done Mode.
Now, aside from the extreme shittiness of getting robbed, this is actually a really interesting problem solving opportunity. What do you do when someone potentially has all of your personal information and could do absolutely anything they wanted to with it? What countermeasures can you take to stop him from screwing with your life? The scope is enormous and the possibilities are really fucking unpleasant. Where should I start?
First off, find out what he took.
* My Xbox 360.
* All nine of my 360 games (many recently purchased.)
* My laptop.
* The beer from my fridge (oh, you ASSHOLE!)
All things considered, that’s not bad. He left a lot of other valuables behind, and I appreciate that much.
Second, empower the police as much as possible.
The police can track stolen goods via serial numbers, so that if they show up at a pawn shop, they’re run through the police database to check to see if they’re stolen. If so, red flag, and I get my stuff back. Yay!
I wisely purchased a warranty with my 360 when I got it a couple years ago, and it had my serial number on it. I wrote it down. Then I called Dell to get my laptop’s serial number. I gave both to the police. I also reported both as stolen to their respective companies so all future support to those devices will be forbidden, making them a lot less useful. :)
Third, find out what information on me he has.
He left my desktop PC but took my laptop, which is slightly out of date but still has all my information on it. I have a perfect mirror of my laptop’s My Documents folder on my desktop PC, so I started poring through it to see exactly what sensitive files he had access to. Unfortunately, it’s pretty bad.
* All my bookmarks.
* Bank statements.
* All my bank account numbers.
* What few passwords I’d scrawled here and there (stupid, I know.)
Essentially, my liability here is HUGE. To protect myself, I’ll essentially have to sever every meaningful financial tie I have, sever myself from all my normal resources, and create an entirely new support structure for my life on paper and survive in the meantime. I may even have to get a new social security card over this. I have no choice. I can’t risk not doing it.
This is pretty bad, but I can work with this. :)
Fourth, make a to-do list and do it.
* Delete bookmarks remotely. (see below)
* Generate list of compromised passwords.
* Generate list of every website I need to change my password on.
* Close all bank accounts and reopen them with new numbers.
* Cancel all debit and credit cards and get new ones.
* Schedule glass installation.
* Schedule security system installation.
* Install window clamps\locks on every window.
The first and fastest thing I could do to protect my data was to delete all my bookmarks remotely. See, I have a bookmark synchronizer called Foxmarks that syncs all my bookmarks to a remote server so they’re the same on every PC I use. Great app. So I immediately saved a local backup of all my bookmarks, deleted all the bookmarks, then synced to the server so there wouldn’t be any bookmarks there. Now, the next time he starts Firefox from my stolen laptop, it’ll automatically sync to the server and delete ALL the bookmarks on that machine. Zing!
So I worked through the rest of the list point by point. I created all-new passwords and threw out ones I’ve used for years. I called my banks and cancelled accounts I’ve had for years and opened new ones. I’ve been cutting up all my credit and debit cards because I can only assume they’ve been compromised. I changed my passwords on nearly 25 websites I use on a daily basis because there’s a possibility they could be compromised.
Fortunately, I just got a new credit card that’s not recorded ANYWHERE, so I can live off of that for a few days while I wait for my new ones to come in.
I scheduled what appointments I could, then went to Home Depot for all the security measures I need to secure my home. I installed these badass window clamps on every single window and sliding door in my condo, and put dowel rods in the other appropriate locations so the doors and windows won’t open.
I also installed a stronger light bulb out on my porch to better the lighting situation and decrease the chances of this happening again. My next step after that is to start installing even more powerful outdoor lighting so the potential entry points are better lit than they were before, and won’t be as appealing a target as they used to be.
I’ve arranged for an glass repairman to come out and fix the glass on Monday, and also for an alarm company to come out ASA-fucking-P to install an alarm system. I’d really like it if the alarm system offered all manner of horribly lethal countermeasures but I’m not sure if I’ll be that lucky.
I’m tentatively planning to buy a gun or two to keep around the house and get all that taken care of from a legal licensing standpoint, in the offchance that anyone should break in while I’m home so I can immediately riddle their body with hot shrieking lead death and snatch their joke of a life right out of them. As is my Texas-given right! :) Yay Texas.
So far I’ve actually already done about 95% of everything I need to do to legally, financially, and personally protect myself and my privacy. It’s just a few more little steps and I’ll be done. It’ll all be more or less done in an evening and a day.
In a weird way, as much as this sucks, this was exciting and fun just because I’ve never had to deal with a mindfuck like this before. It makes me feel powerful to be able to take shit like this and flip it on its head and just take care of business like it’s anything else, without getting cloudy or stupid or seizing up. I’m even a little proud of myself for it.
So, let’s see what the next few days bring!