Imagine a fire, a flood, a tornado taking everything – your home and all of its contents. Imagine your laptop, smartphone, files, and wallet – gone, too. Could you recreate your identity? Could you prove you are who you say you are?
Could you prove you are YOU?
Victims of Hurricane Katrina faced this complicated form of “identity theft” when flood waters washed away everything they ever owned, as described in this story.
- Passports and birth certificates: gone
- Keys to bank deposit boxes: gone
- Driver’s licenses, utility bills, credit cards: gone
September was National Preparedness Month and we heard an awful lot about emergency kits and safety plans. Indeed, I wrote about three different kinds of kits here. But perhaps the most important kit of all is the Identity Kit – a collection of all the data needed to rebuild one’s life – should disaster strike.
The Identity Kit
Like any emergency kit, it’s better to have some kind of Identify Kit versus no kind of Identity Kit. Here are three options for safeguarding your important information (a list of vital documents follows):
Old School: take TWO front and back copies of all important cards and documents. Keep one set in a safe location in your home. Make sure you remember where it is and that it’s accessible in an emergency. Secure the other set with a trusted person in another state or city.
Tech All the Way: use spreadsheets, inventory software, or password managers to track account numbers, usernames, and other important data. Upload pictures and photocopies, too. Store everything in the cloud for easy access anywhere.
Diversify: if Old School seems too limited, and Tech All the Way too risky, a combination of paper copies, electronic docs and cloud storage will cover all bases.
THE IDENTITY KIT
- Birth Certificates
- Marriage Certificate/Divorce Certificate
- Social Security Cards
- Driver’s Licenses/State Issued ID Cards
- Bank Accounts
- Credit Card Accounts
- Investment Accounts
- Securities & Trusts
- Last Tax Return
- Loan Documents
- Outstanding Debts
- Safe Deposit Box Key
- Mortgage Papers/Deed
- Other Properties (rentals, vacation homes)
- Car Title(s)
- Other Titles (boat, motorcycle, RV)
- Inventory of Home Contents
- Home Insurance Policy
- Car Insurance Policy
- Life Insurance Policy
- Health Insurance Cards
- Medical Records
- List of RX Medications
- Medical Directives
- Powers of Attorney
- Business Documents
- Phone Numbers (lots of people don’t know these anymore)
- Cash (small denominations)
- Complete List of Passwords & Logins
Richard Kline said:
Confidence is Preparation. Everything else is beyond your control.
Emergency Preparedness brings peace of mind.
Build your Emergency Kits.
Make your Emergency Plans.
Everything else is beyond our control.
The following websites have loads of information about disaster preparedness:
Ready.gov (a part of FEMA)