Your laptop is your best friend, your appointment setter, your note-taker, and your entertainment center. Losing it or, worse, having it stolen can be a devastating blow when you’re in college. Fortunately, there are several things you can do if your laptop is compromised.
Before you do anything else…
If your laptop is safely by your side (and you’re using it to read this article), take a break and do the most important thing any computer user can do: back up your data! Save your most important files, documents, photos, and videos on a cloud system so that if your computer is totally lost, you will still be able to access your final paper or check out those photos of you on your Spring Break vacation. Cloud storage doesn’t cost much, and in many cases is free. It’s worth taking a few minutes to ensure your most valuable items are safe and secure.
1. Call Campus Police
First things first: call the police ASAP. Even if your laptop is a dinosaur and not that expensive, it is important that campus police (or, if off-campus, the local police) have a report on it. They may be able to watch security camera footage or hunt down some leads about your case. It never hurts to try. If you are unsure if it was stolen, calling campus police can also help you find out where the lost and found is located on campus.
2. Let Your Friends Know
It may be embarrassing, but your friends can be a great asset in tracking down a missing laptop. They may be able to help you retrace your steps. One of them may even have grabbed it for you.
3. Get In Touch with Professors
If an upcoming project was saved on your computer, don’t waste time. Let your professor know. If he or she is skeptical of your story, bring in some evidence (such as a copy of the police report). Hopefully, your instructor will be understanding and give you some extra time to turn in your work. If he or she doesn’t budge, try bringing it up the chain of command by notifying your counselor.
4. Change Your Passwords
If you’re like most students, you probably used autofill or remember me apps to store your passwords for quick logins. This is the time to change your methods. Using a friend’s computer, change your passwords on every single account you have that would lead someone to your personal information. Start with your bank and shopping accounts, then go to your student logins where your social security number and grades are stored, finally hit your email and social media logins. In addition, make sure you switch to a password protection service that keeps your information for you.
5. Check the Insurance or Warranty
Some insurance policies offer assistance if your laptop was lost, stolen, or broken. If you are unsure of what your policy covers, have you or whomever purchased your computer make a call. If you have renter’s insurance on your dorm room, you may also be entitled to some assistance in getting a new computer after paying the deductible.
Have you ever dealt with losing a laptop? What valuable advice can you give our readers? Let us know!