Flood. Earthquake. Fire. Theft. Internet Scams. Do you ever feel that you are under attack from all sides? Security is an increasing concern for both homeowners and renters. Your home is a haven of privacy and security - in an ideal world. Creating a safe and private home is of utmost importance, and worth some effort and attention, and involves several areas of your environment. Shielding your home from intruders who might harm your family and take your possessions is worth some planning. It's easy to forget some of the less obvious steps you can take to keep your assets safe.
Secure from What?
Many homes have state-of-the-art security systems to discourage intruders. Personal security from those who could harm you and your loved ones is number one. The fear of losing valuable jewelry, electronic equipment, antiques, or cash is also very real.
Protection from invisible intruders is also important, as they can enter your home and your life invisibly through internet crimes such as identity theft, internet fraud and scams, and online predators. You can also lose your property through fire, flood, volcano, earthquake, or storm when only the wrath of nature is to blame.
It's enough to make a reasonable person feel real paranoid. But there is a lot you can do to limit your risks and soften the possible damage you would experience of the unimaginable happens.
Some Obvious First Steps:
First, insure your home adequately for all of the risks that would be devastating. Don't just go for the basics unless you have resources to recover from uncovered perils such as flood or hurricane. Speak to your insurance agent annually to tune up your policy. Renters can obtain coverage for their possessions, too.
Take precautions against identity theft. Protect your account numbers, passwords, and social security number. Lock your mailbox and shred account statements and any documents with account information and numbers.
Don't fall for internet scams and "phishing" attempts. Be very skeptical of any and all unsolicited internet offers, as these criminals are very sophisticated at camouflaging themselves. Legitimate banks and financial institutions do not email customers for information -ever. Don't use obvious passwords or the same password for everything.
Your Life, On Paper:
Where are your important documents? It's easy to forget about one of the most damaging losses you could experience. There are no thriller movies made about it, starring Hollywood's finest. Your irreplaceable documents aren't as likely to be stolen but can be lost forever through accident or natural disaster.
What if you had only five minutes to evacuate your house-only minutes to grab every crucial document from property titles, wills, and insurance records? Not to mention personal records, photos, or mementos, which you may want to preserve almost as much.
Think fast! Would you even know what to grab? Are your important documents scattered throughout your home? With a bit of planning you can track your most crucial records and keep them out of the clutches of flames, floods, hurricanes, tsunami, or any other disaster-natural or manmade. By spending a little preparation time, you'll be more likely to remain calm in the eye of a storm and confident in the safety of your financial documents. That will allow you to spend the crucial moments thinking about more important things-like getting your loved ones out of the house safely.
Examples of Documents to Collect:
Marriage certificates or divorce decrees
Bank account numbers and names of institutions
Identification records (driver license, birth certificates, green card, passport, etc.)
Titles, deeds, registrations for property and vehicles owned
Mortgage numbers and other loan information
Insurance policies and medical insurance cards
Investment records and retirement statements
Credit-card account numbers
Income tax information (copies of past returns, proof of estimated tax payments)
Social Security card numbers and statements
Wills, trusts, and estate planning documents
Irreplaceable family photos and memorabilia
Inventory of jewelry, antiques, or family heirlooms including photos and appraisals
Medical directives, living wills, and medical releases
Make a list of crucial contacts names and numbers, including:
Immediate family members
Real estate agent or landlord
Physicians and dentists
Organize your Documents: Just Do It
Identify a single location to file all originals - a fireproof box or safe deposit box is ideal. Keep EVERYTHING here, no exceptions.
Create copies of important papers now (certified, in cases of birth certificates and other crucial documents) in case you need them to provide to government agencies. Keep the copies in a different place away from your home, such as at the office or at a friend or relatives home.
Keep private records of passwords for access to any online accounts. Consider putting this information into your own "secret code" system if you have any doubts about the security of your written records.
Put important original documents in clear non-acid page protectors which will preserve them and also help you keep track of the originals.
Notify a trusted relative or close friend where important information will be located, in case you're not available when it is needed. Be selective, as protecting your identity is also important while securing your paperwork.
Identify the records that you or your financial institutions keep only on computer. Because they may not be available if electrical power fails, make printouts.
Sentimental items such as photos, family trees, or other personal items could be considered to be just as important.
Be realistic about how much space you have for all these items, and prioritize carefully!
Throw out obsolete information. This will make it much easier to find what is important.
Murphy's Law. When it comes to keeping your family, home, and possessions safe, don't worry about it - do something about it. Experiencing loss or damage to your home is a major life trauma. Careful planning now can give you peace of mind and help you recover in the event you experience this sort of casualty. And since Murphy's Law dictates that you will only experience the problems that you have not anticipated, that's reason enough to plan for them all!
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