Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Don't let lost documents spoil your cruise

Losing your passport or other picture ID, credit cards, cruise or plane ticket, and other vital documents can ruin a vacation and cost you time and money to replace. In other cases, you may need to retrieve information from documents such as insurance or medical records, a birth certificate (if you lose your passport), or child custody papers that you might not routinely carry with you. Anyone who's faced having to prove their identity or truthfulness to a skeptical ticket taker or border guard knows what a nightmare it can be without the proper papers.

Now a new website offers you the opportunity to safely store in and retrieve your vital info from an online safe deposit box, accessible from any Internet connection, anywhere. It's called KeepYouSafe.com.

For instance, you could scan your opening passport pages, credit card numbers and issuing bank contact info, and copies of your tickets into the online safety deposit box, and retrieve them if you need to while away from home, as long as you can find an Internet connection.

Most important, the online safety deposit box is secured by military-grade encryption; without your own chosen password (which KeepYouSafe.com does not keep themselves) no one but you (or your trusted designee) can gain access to your files. I just signed up myself, and the site guided me into choosing the strongest possible password that a stranger could never guess. Without that password, or so we're assured, even hacking into your file would yield only gibberish.

If you're wary of trusting your most vital personal information to any website, that's understandable. We've all heard the horror stories and it's your decision to make. But for me -- having once lost a passport abroad and spending the next three days and virtually my last Austrian Schilling trying to replace it -- the balance tips in favor of being able to retrieve that information when needed.

Furthermore, the basic service is free. If you want additional storage or special premium file transfer services, the cost is $4 per month.

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