How to protect your identity online if you've been burgled
When something dramatic happens, even the best of us struggle to react with a clear head. If you get burgled, it can be a very scary and confusing thing to deal with. This is why it's a good idea to think about what the important steps to take if you do get burgled are so you know exactly what to do in this unfortunate situation so you can get your home and finances back to normal as quickly and smoothly as possible.
Here are the ten steps you should follow if you get burgled:
1. Phone the police
The sooner you do this, the better the chances of the burglars being caught. If they’re still inside your home, call the emergency number and do not go inside. Go to a safe place nearby such as your neighbours home to keep an eye on the situation from a distance. You’re worth more than your stuff, so don’t risk it.
2. Don’t touch anything
As tempting as it is to start tidying up, your home is now a crime scene. Disturbing it before the investigation could destroy evidence, making it less likely the police will be able to catch the culprits.
3. List stolen or damaged property
As well as giving you something to do while you wait for the police, it’s crucial that you take an inventory of everything that’s been stolen, no matter how small. Include serial numbers and identifying marks where you can, as well as photos of places your stuff was taken from. Your inventory will help the police identify your stuff should they recover it, and your home insurance provider will need it to process your claim.
4. Protect your accounts and your identity
You don’t want the burglars getting up to more mischief with your bank accounts and documents. So, if they stole debit or credit cards, call the issuers immediately to cancel them. If they stole any devices containing sensitive login or account details, wipe them remotely if you can (this has the added bonus of preventing the burglars using them) and call the account providers for advice. Europ Assistance provides identity theft protection to help keep your data and accounts secure in this situation. If they swiped any smartphones, call your mobile provider if they contained a SIM card. And if they took any documents, such as your passport or driving license, call the relevant government agencies.
5. Get a crime reference number from the police
Your insurance provider will need this to process your claim.
6. Call your home insurer
Depending on your level of cover, your insurer should be able to replace anything that’s been stolen, pay for any repairs to your property as well as any costs associated with securing your home (see step 7). When you call, be sure to have your crime reference number, any available receipts for stolen items, and the inventory you made ready.
7. Secure your home
If you want to thwart a repeat visit, it’s important to fix and upgrade your security where you can. Start by repairing any security systems you already had in place that were damaged in the burglary. If the burglars stole any keys, change the corresponding locks. And ask the police for recommendations on how to improve your home’s security, and implement their advice as quickly as possible.
Upgrading your home security is the best way to mitigate any increase to your insurance premium, but it’s still likely to go up overall.
9. Get support
There's no denying it—being burgled is no picnic. Your privacy and your security were violated, and that can be tough to deal with. So, it’s essential that you look after yourself by getting any support you need. The police might refer you to a victim support group; but if they don’t, seek one out yourself if you’re struggling in any way. And, of course, don’t be afraid to lean on friends and family for support.
10. Claim compensation
If the burglars are caught and convicted, you may be eligible to claim compensation. But you might need to tell the police that you want to do this in advance, so be sure to bring it up with them as soon as you can.
Above all, the most important response to being burgled is to resist the temptation to think about everything at once and possibly getting overwhelmed. Instead, take one thing at a time, focusing on the current step and moving on to the next in its turn. You’ve got this!