According to Hewlett Packard, in the event that a laptop containing important data is lost or stolen, there are steps you can take to minimize the damage to your personal finances and credit rating. The act of utilizing another party's key information such as Social Security number and driver's license information for financial gain is called identity theft. Victims of this crime are left with a tainted reputation and the complicated task of restoring their good names. Here are some key steps to preventing identity theft and dealing with it if it happens to you:

  1. Delete without replying to any suspicious email requests.
  2. Carefully destroy papers you throw out, especially those with sensitive or identifying information. A crosscut paper shredder works best.
  3. Reduce the number of pre-approved credit card offers you receive by calling 888-5OPT OUT
  4. If your SSN has been taken, order your credit reports from all three Credit Reporting Agencies: Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion.
  5. Contact all credit issuers, utility companies and collection agencies that show a fraudulent account. Close your fraudulent accounts. Put passwords on accounts as you reopen them or open new ones.
  6. If a bank, credit card or debit account has been taken over by another person (charges you didn't make appear on your monthly statement), close the account and open a new one.