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The Privacy Pawn Shop

Happy Hump Day!!

This week I have been discussing privacy and what you can do to prevent bad things from happening to you.  I hope you all considered the question I asked you yesterday, as it truly pertains to today’s topic.

The privacy pawn shop?

When we are in our home, we have a feeling of security that no other place can give us.  We use the phrase “in the privacy of my own home” as it means we are secure in what we do.  But are we truly safe? By that, I am actually asking, is our privacy truly secure in our homes?  To simply answer this, I ask yet another question is that fancy flat screen TV and 40 speaker home entertainment system safe?  Of course not… to both questions! You see, thieves become more advanced as technology moves forward.  The deadbolt and possible alarm system aren’t enough today to keep thieves out of your home.  Yes, they are good preventative tools, but if a thief wants into your home, they will get in.  I conducted some research for this post yesterday, and though I see a lot of the evils of this world, I was actually shocked with what I found.

I called 4 pawn shops in the DFW region, trying to hit on the three social economic areas, and in the country.  Here is what I found:

  • A Samsung 46” LED Flat Panel TV will be bought at an average of $500 by a pawn shop
  • A Sony Stereo system, with HDMI inputs, that supports iPod controls, will be bought for an average of $300.

I then looked online at some nefarious websites, ones that deal in “information” and found this:

  • A partial identity:  Name and Social Security Number:  bought for an average of $2,000
  • A full identity:  Name, Address, SSN, and DOB:  bought for an average of $3,800.

Your private information is worth more than a fancy TV and stereo combined.  So, yesterday, I asked if you knew where your check book, social security card, and birth certificate were, and now you are about to find out why.

According to the FBI report for 2010 theft statistics, more than 60% of home invaders (the federal description for house robbers) stole personal paperwork and nothing else.  These crimes also take longer to report to law enforcement because people assume they simply lost the documents.  With your birth certificate and social security card, I can create a new identity, open (literally) 50 credit card accounts, obtain a mortgage, and disappear without a trace in under 90 days.  Scary thought isn’t it?

Now let’s think about this.  How many of us have that small filing cabinet that we store our old financials in?  Tax returns, returned checks, etc?  Is that a truly safe way of securing our privacy?  “Jonathan, I have a lock for the filing cabinet, doesn’t that work?” That is a great first step, but try to think about defense in depth.  The United States has multiple layers of defense when it comes to this great country of ours.  The simplest way of seeing this layered effect:

  • Military – World Wide Defense
  • National Guard, Coast Guard, Homeland Security, FBI – National Defense
  • State Police, County Police, City Police – Local Defense
  • 2nd Amendment – Personal Defense

Ok, how does this apply to our privacy? You have locks on your home, then you have a filing cabinet with that small lock on it.  If a thief is in your home, that person has already bypassed the harder of the two locks… how safe do you feel about that small lock now?  If you have a lot of documents that you need to store, you can get a filing cabinet that has some real girth in the security department.  Look for the cabinets that have that piece of steel that goes down the middle of all the drawers.  This thing is beefy, ugly, and sticks out like a sore thumb, and also has a place for a big padlock.  A thief will not try to break into this.  Now, let’s look at the layered defense for your documents:  Lock on house, filing cabinet that has both a big steel bar blocking the drawers, and a padlock.  Adding that one extra layer deters a thief.  Other options:  fireproof safe that bolts down to the floor, wall safe, digital copies stored on encrypted hard drives, etc…

I am guilty of this; I have a fireproof safe that isn’t bolted down like it should.  I am sure many of us are in this same boat.  Just remember, thieves are connoisseurs of all things portable.

Let’s make a promise together, a promise to make our highly valuable privacy less portable to thieves.  Let us lock up the checkbook (do we use these more than 2 or 3 times a year anyways?), our birth certificate, our social security card, our passports, and all of our saved tax returns and financials, and let us remember, “Our privacy is worth more to a thief than our entertainment system and flat screen TV combined.”

Tomorrow, I wrap up my privacy topic with a how to guide to protecting our data/privacy.  Thank you for all for reading my posts, I hope you are finding ways to be safer today than you were yesterday.

Protect your information, protect yourself; Coffee is brewing people, it is time to wake up!!!

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|The Privacy Dude |

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