I had my purse stolen a couple of weeks ago, and my iPad was in it.
I was able to cancel all but one of the credit cards before the thieves used them. My business credit card was used for a shopping spree, but it looks like those charges have already been removed from my account — probably because I reported the theft very quickly and filed a police report.
Going forward I doubt if I will be carrying as much plastic in my wallet on a regular basis, and I think I’ll leave the iPad at home unless I am sure I am going to need it.
Having the iPad taken was, and is, a nightmare. It has the "find my phone" tracking software on it, but the device isn’t showing up on the map. Maybe the people who took it just dumped it, or haven’t connected to the Internet yet. Or maybe they know enough to reset it before connecting it to the Internet.
Once it was out of my hands, I started thinking about all of the services my iPad is connected to. The first thing I did was change the password for Dropbox, before I figured out that all I needed to do was revoke that iPad’s access. Then I changed my Evernote password.
Then I took care of accounts that have direct access to money, credit or gift cards — my electronic banking software, Square account, iTunes and Amazon.com.
Of course, I used the iPad to access Facebook, Twitter, one email account and other social media accounts, so I just went ahead and changed the passwords. I changed my Google password because I used the Google app on the iPad too.
Maybe it wouldn’t cost me any money, but I didn’t like the idea of someone watching movies in my Netflix account, so I went ahead and changed the password for that, too.
There are notes and documents on the iPad that I still have access to because they are synced through iTunes. But they are also on my iPad so someone else has access to them, too.
If you’re still reading this, I know you must be really annoyed with me, because every idiot knows that iPads can be password-protected. But mine wasn’t. How stupid can I be? There are several apps that have their own password protection and I could have set that up, too.
Now I get why it should have been, and when I get my new iPad, it shall be passcode-protected. Yours should be, too — especially if you are using it for business.
I have never put a client’s Social Security number in Evernote or Dropbox, and I certainly don’t carry them around on my iPad. But I do get sensitive information sent to me via email. I consider client email addresses and other contact information private as well.
When agents work with short sales, we often end up with bank statements, Social Security numbers, paycheck stubs, tax returns and other financial statements. My office is secure and private. I have a shredder right next to my desk, and I use it often. There isn’t any business reason for making these documents part of the client’s file.
Generally, paper documents are digitized and uploaded into systems like Equator, that wonderful system used by Bank of America and others for negotiating short sales. Often clients send me sensitive information by email.
Anyone with access to my mobile devices can see my email. The iPad that was stolen did not access the email account I use for business — at least not through the email app — but I have two mobile devices that do access my business email.
Chances are that the person who now has my iPad isn’t tech-savvy enough to fully exploit my lack of security. They were after the purse, not the iPad, and are probably not interested in any secrets it may hold.
It is likely that this won’t be the last time in my life that my purse and or electronic devices are stolen or lost. Here are some of the things I plan to do differently in the future:
- Activate the passcode protection feature on my iPad and smartphone.
- Have a list of phone numbers for reporting lost or stolen credit cards.
- Carry less and clean out my wallet more often so that I know for sure what is in it.
- Know what is on my electronic devices and have a list of apps that may present security risks.
We have a responsibility to safeguard client data. It’s important to know where our data is at all times, and to keep it secure at all times. For some of us, that means locking down our mobile devices, laptop computers and desktop computers.
Please be careful out there this holiday season.
Teresa Boardman is a broker in St. Paul, Minn., and founder of the St. Paul Real Estate blog.
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