Thursday, November 6, 2008

Don't leave your stuff laying around

photo by imadoofus123
On Sunday I went for a beautiful hike. We've had such a gorgeous fall in Colorado. The trail was rather busy but encounters with other hikers were still spread far enough apart to make it peaceful. At the end of the trail I found a notebook. I'm sure I wasn't the first to find it since it was placed up on a sign with hope of being retrieved. As I was waiting for my friend while she used the outhouse I kept glancing at the book. Finally I couldn't help but discreetly flip through the pages. And then I couldn't stop myself from picking it up and reading.

My friend soon came to join me and inside we found someone's personal account of what they did every day. Most of it was mundane such as grocery lists or other errands, but as times the writing was more personal. There were several trips to the bank with records of who they talked to. Scribblings of money worries occurred over and over. This person was worried about banking security, Internet security and if their computer might fail and lose all their data.

Generally, this was a book filled with worry. You might think this was paranoid writing, but all these worries are things that most of think about from time to time. Is my bank safe? Could a computer virus detect my passwords? But the really disturbing thing about this notebook was that it wasn't protected. It was left out on the trail for nosey people like me and my friend to read. I could have easily gleaned enough information to figure out where this person lived, where their children go to school, and where they bank. Who knows if I'd read more maybe I'd learn some other key information. There were even a few first and last names of people the writer knows.

This carelessness is exactly how personal information gets stolen. Did you know that the majority of identity theft incidences are committed by friends or relatives--even kids? Think about all the bank statements, credit card information, social security numbers, bank account numbers that are in your house. It's sadly easy for anyone to get that info.

Be safe with your important documents and passwords. Invest in file cases that lock, safe deposit boxes, shredders, virus protection software and personal firewalls. Sure, these are basic precautions but it's surprising how so many of don't take the time to put them in place. I'm no different, my shredded broke from over use a few weeks ago and I've been too lazy to replace it. It's on my list to do before I have company come in this weekend.

As for the notebook, let's hope that it found it's owner, but who knows how many other curious hikers took a peak or more.

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