When it comes to burglary or a home fire, many homeowners naturally worry about their family and possessions first. Physical items are high on every burglar’s wishlist, but many people overlook some of the most valuable items in their home: personal documents such as passports or social security cards.
Physical items can be replaced, and may even be insured, but identity theft due to the loss of personal information can haunt you for years. If you, like most people, keep sensitive documents in your home, here’s how you can make sure they stay secure.
What You Need to Secure
To start, you need to know which documents a burglar might want. Some people store their most important documents in a safe deposit box at a bank, but that’s simply not feasible for every piece of sensitive information. There are items that many of us may use regularly that we leave lying around the house or in a place we think is safe, so here are the personal items that you should make sure to secure in a safe place.
Birth certificates and social security cards
Passports and ID copies
Debit cards and rarely used credit cards
Insurance policies and vehicle titles
Tax returns and investment documents
Legal documents like a will or settlement
Health records and bills
Any item that has financial information or personally identifiable information should be considered sensitive. Many people are content to leave these in desk drawers or in cabinets, but even those who take the time to hide their valuable documents can fall prey to a committed burglar.
Hidden Does Not Mean Secure
Just like when you attempt to hide cash or jewelry, it’s important to remember one thing:
no matter how sneaky you think you’re being, a burglar knows all the best hiding places in your home. Most burglars spend 12-15 minutes in a home, which is plenty of time to check the most common document hiding places like under the bed, a box in the closet or in the office desk.
Some of us may take the time to store important documents in a locked drawer or filing cabinet, but a persistent thief will have plenty of time to crack open a locked drawer and take anything that looks valuable. While it can be difficult to remember to store new documents, the most effective way to protect your information is to store them in a heavyweight safe.
Choosing a Safe
In Florida, homeowners need to buy a safe that can stand up to three things: burglars, fire and water. Many people are content to buy fireproof boxes to hold their valuables, and simply place it under the bed for safekeeping – unfortunately, all you’ve done is made the burglar steal your fireproof box to open at a later time. When choosing a safe, it’s important to buy one that is heavy enough that a burglar would think twice before trying to carry it out of your home. Better yet, choose one that can be bolted to your floor.
Next, you need a safe that can stand up to an emergency like a fire or a flood. Fireproof safes are rated to survive fires from a half hour to up to four hours, though most homeowners should only need a safe rated for one hour to ensure their documents make it through house fires. Make sure you read the labels to ensure it is rated to survive being submerged or exposed to smoke and flames.
Build a First Line of Defense
While a safe is vital to ensure your irreplaceable personal documents survive a home emergency, the best defense against burglary is to ensure no burglar would dare break into your home. A monitored home security system has been proven to be the most effective deterrent to burglars – even those looking to steal an identity.
Contact Crime Prevention Security Systems today for a free consultation.