Advisor nightmare: My laptop was stolen

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Q: My company gave me a laptop that I can use when I’m out on the road meeting with clients. Unfortunately, my rental car was broken into and the laptop was stolen. I notified my manager but I’m not sure if there’s anything else I should do. What’s your advice?

A: You did the most important thing you could do, which was immediately notify your manager. Your supervisor should notify compliance and your IT department (or whoever your firm works with if you don’t have one in-house).

Work with compliance and IT to the extent they need any information you may have. For instance, if you could access your firm’s servers from the laptop, or if there was confidential client or firm information on the laptop, compliance and IT will need to take additional steps to mitigate against a potential data breach.

At this stage it's not an actual data breach, but it could become one. Check your compliance manual for any policies or procedures you might have for situations such as these since your firm may have additional steps you need to take.

If you or your firm suspect that client accounts or information may have been compromised, you may need to alert the regulatory authorities (FINRA, SEC, state regulator or FBI) and possibly the firm’s clients as well. Hopefully you already filed a police report with local law enforcement, but make sure that you alerted them to the fact that there was confidential information on the laptop.

This should also serve as a cautionary tale for other reps who use mobile devices that can access client data. Avoid leaving a mobile device in a car if at all possible — and certainly not where it’s visible. If you must leave it, consider locking it in the trunk, but be aware of your surroundings since someone may be watching you. It only takes a few seconds for a criminal to pop the lock on a trunk.

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Workplace safety and security Data breaches Cyber security Client communications Crime and misconduct