Better And Better

If you don't draw yours, I won't draw mine. A police officer, working in the small town that he lives in, focusing on family and shooting and coffee, and occasionally putting some people in jail.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Cover your butt.

I've been taking a lot of Identity Theft cases lately.

A family member who works in the Driver's License Bureau of the D.P.S. has recently been railing about the issue of lost identification documents.

If there is a major flood or disaster or you are well-and-truly ripped off, and you have not identification documents, how are you going to prove that you are you?

May I suggest something? Make backups. NOW.

First, go to your most easily-available photocopy machine (I'll suggest the library, but I know most of y'all will use the machine at your job) with your documents, your cards, and a pocketful of change. Make photocopies of your credit cards, front and back. Make copies of your identification cards, front and back. (It's okay to put more than one on a scan.) Make copies of your identification documents, front and back (and inside, as the case may be.). Make copies of your vehicle titles, front and back. Make copies of your long-term insurance polices-- car, house, personal injury, whatever. Make copies of your insurance ID cards.

Stack all of this nicely, put a date on the stacking showing when you copied the documents, and put it into a one-gallon ziplock freezer bag. Seal it.

Now zip that bag into another ziplock bag.

It's a little bulky, but not too bad. It should probably be about the size of my daughter's thinner spiral-wound notebooks for school.

Now, put it in a very safe place, off the ground. Suggestions include:
In the back of a cabinet, behind the Tupperware. In the bottom of the sugar/salt/flour bin in the kitchen.
Between the pages of a large reference book on a shelf.
Inside a safe.
Behind the padding of your gun cabinet.
Inside a can or book safe.
In the back of your freezer. (Note, if a disaster sweeps the area, this may well protect your documents, but it will probably be unpleasant retrieving them.)
NOT in your car. I say again: NOT in your car.

Best is a really secure off-site option. Consider a safe-deposit box. Do you have a close friend or family member who is Utterly Dependable and trustworthy? Consider storing this packet with him or her, in their safe place.

Now, in the TRUE spirit of redundancy ("two is one, and one is none"), make TWO copies of those documents while you're merrily hitting "Print" on your boss's the library's photocopy machine. Make two packets, to be distributed at vastly different locations.

Now, you're going to need some real backup ID. Oh, that other stuff I just talked about? It's important, but do this: go to your local license bureau, and get a state-issued ID card, in addition to your driver's license. Yes, it's a little bit of expense, but trust me, it's easier than dealing with the hassle of not being able to prove who you are. You don't have to do it today-- you can do it the next time you have to go to the licensing office.

Now go get an extra copy of your birth certificate.

Got a school ID you no longer use? Get it.

Got an old expired driver's license in a drawer? That's actually worth something as a secondary (and for a few years, as a primary) form of identification.

Have you gotten a passport, yet? Too expensive? Well, consider the new Passport I.D. card.

You're not one of those people who carries around his or her Social Security Card on their person, are you? STOP that.

Put two or more of these items (I.D. card and Birth Certificate, Social Security Card and Birth certificate, passport and S.S. card) into your identity packets, double-sealed.

You understand that these are important, right? You understand how important it is NOT to leave this stuff out where it can be found, right?

Don't put it in your car.

Oh, and if you're like me, you like to carry a line of credit that you'll never use or even carry on your person. Thus, it makes perfect sense to toss a real (activated, but not active) credit card into the bags, too. I'm tempted to suggest putting some cash in there, but then it starts to become too attractive to raid occasionally, or for the lucky petty thief to take. Yes, this is a type of survival gear, but it is an extremely specific type.

About every six months to a year, you're going to have to update your packets with new copies of expired documents. Sorry. That's just business.

I hope that this most boring task is the most unnecessary one that I suggest you ever do, just like putting on your seat belt, carrying personal insurance, locking your doors, and arming yourself appropriately.

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At Tuesday, June 24, 2008 3:14:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I read on another blog (might have been vodkapundit) that he simply canceled his credit cards every nine months to a year and got issued new numbers to avoid fraud and possibly identity theft.

Given the number of places someone has your card out of your sight, this seems like a decent idea, along with your of 'makin' the copies' ;-) (sorry, I couldn't resist a little SNL quote)

St Paul

At Tuesday, June 24, 2008 5:13:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

If you go to a commercial print/copy place, they will balk at letting you make color copies of ID, especially passports. Even if you are doing it yourself. Apparently it is either not legal, or very not smart (makes it much easier to make a fake passport, should Sumdood get the copy), or both.
Just my observation from preparing for my last overseas jaunt.

At Tuesday, June 24, 2008 9:16:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I recommend an electronic storage solution. If you do not already own one, get an inexpensive scanner. Scan images of the same items that you mentioned, i.e. credit cards, birth certificated etc.

Transfer those files to a CD, thumb drive or another electronic storage device. Send that device to a relative.

Another storage option is to use an online storage service. Google and Yahoo have huge storage allowance in their email so you can email those scanned documents to yourself and keep them stored on those servers.

At Wednesday, June 25, 2008 5:00:00 AM, Blogger Evil Transport Lady said...

Good post! I never thought to do any of that!

At Thursday, June 26, 2008 2:47:00 AM, Blogger Old NFO said...

One additional caution- Don't hide the docs from yourself!!! I put mine in my gun safe, because I can remember that location :-)

At Thursday, June 26, 2008 5:02:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Excellent, thanks for the idea!

At Friday, June 27, 2008 5:06:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have a friend who's DL expired recently. He is having eye problems, with assorted surgeries involved, which is why he can't renew it right now. For a flight, he was informed that an expired DL is NOT valid for ID purposes. He encountered the same problem with other situations requiring photo ID. He was forced to go to the DMV for an ID card, just to be allowed to stand in line for the obligatory insult of dealing with TSA and its minions.


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