Your college kid just called you to let you know that in their absence, their roommate threw a “rager” and now the computer he was using to get those all those A’s in college is missing! What can you do? We have all been there... young and careless. I know I have lost, broken, or been robbed of things I would really love to have. But, that's life. Living with a roommate is about compromise and you have to be smarter with your things.
As a parent, you want to go straight into “I told you…..” but that isn’t an effective use of time. Your kid can learn later! This is the time to make sure that you kid’s identity is protected and he will be able to get his homework turned in on time. Stop, Look, and Listen. Ask your kids the right questions to help them navigate this type of loss, then remind them that had they followed your instructions in the first place this conversation wouldn't be necessary! I hope that these questions will help you in helping your college kid.
1. Are you missing any documents, where are your debit cards, driver's license, or Social Security Card?
It's not enough to ask. You should wait while they locate all of these items and confirm that they are safe before you move on. Otherwise, this is the perfect time to report all of your credit cards stolen to the issuing banks. All of this is more important than getting your laptop stolen. Laptops can be replaced and you can recover most of your information but getting your identity stolen can haunt you forever.
2. Is your computer password protected?
Using a password will keep amateur thieves out of your personal information. If you use a program like Windows 8 you will be able to change your password from a cellphone or a different computer.
3. Did you change all your email passwords and login information for websites like Amazon, Facebook, and Twitter?
A lot of times, we get comfortable and allow Internet sites to save our passwords for future use. If someone steals your computer, they have instant access to all of your files. Remember to accept the option that says to log you out of any other devices when you change your password.
4. Do you have backups of all your important documents, ie. homework that is due soon and in progress?
Keeping your records backed up can save your life! Set a time to back up your computer everyday. Also, when you are working on a project. After you save and close it, email it to yourself. You will be able to work on it from any computer on campus or at a friend's home and this copy can save you if your seemingly fine computer takes an unexpected nosedive.
5. Did you report your computer stolen to the police? You need to report your computer stolen to the police because this is an item that can be recovered and returned if you can provide the serial number to the authorities.
6. Write down a list of anyone that was in the vicinity and call them to see if they saw anything suspicious. Then make sure you provide this list to the police. They probably know your neighbors better than you do.
Buy renter's insurance, it is so inexpensive! Documentation is key when it comes to getting a claim paid. Take pictures of what you have now (you can email pictures to yourself for safekeeping), make a list of each item and save your receipts from now on. If you buy additional warranties for your expensive items, then register them right away.
You need to have an apartment meeting and set some ground rules! Good Luck.. I will be blogging about living with roommates another time, but if this happens to you--comment below so I know.
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