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Have You Been Hacked Recently!

Posted on February 25, 2020 in Firm News

Well, I have, and it’s a frightening hassle!!

I have friends who, in the last few years, have had this experience – particularly with their social media accounts.  They said it was a very unsettling feeling – not quite like having your home burglarized, which has happened to me.  So, I thought I knew how they felt.

However, recently, my personal experience was very eye-opening, when I checked my email account late in the evening and found that more than 800 emails had passed through my account earlier that day between 1:00 p.m. and 3:00 p.m.!!  Every single one of them was in a foreign language, i.e., German, French, Italian, Austrian, Indian, Chinese (with the actual characters), Spanish, and Russian.  All the emails were confirming and congratulating me on my new subscription to this, that and the other – including the approval of mortgage accounts.  And there were a few that appeared on the surface to be very “unsavory”!  To say the least, I was shocked and upset, and I didn’t know what to do about it – so very many hours had already passed!  I didn’t know how to contact my email provider, although I did know that I should not open any of the emails.

Then the thought came to mind to check on my financial accounts – at which point, I found that I was DENIED ONLINE ACCESS to my bank accounts!!  Luckily, I bank at an institution that provides 24‑hour support, so I picked up my cell phone and called.  Upon checking my account status and confirming to me that they had put a “fraud alert” on my accounts, I was directed to the Fraud Department.

I was told by a very nice woman named Janel that the original hacker had been traced to Russia, who had somehow gained access to my email account.  My email was open on my laptop, and Janel directed me to the time of the “hack email” so I could see it.  Through my email account, the hacker acquired my bank information and tried to change my access code.  It was at that point my bank was alerted to “suspicious activity” and shut down all my accounts.  What a relief to hear this – I just gushed my gratitude to her for their quick response!

Initially, Janel walked me through re-establishing security protection on my laptop, which I had allowed to lapse.  I will never let that happen again!  She told me that before we could re‑establish my account access, I needed to run a “virus scan” on my computer and other electronic devices to make sure they were safe.  It turned out that there were no viruses or malware of any kind, which surprised me, but I was very relieved, as you can imagine!

Janel then worked with me to establish new accounts and the transfer of all funds from my existing accounts, which included a checking account for my granddaughter, a college student in New York.  Janel was able to reconfigure my granddaughter’s debit card so she could continue to use her card for the new account and not have to await a new card in the mail.  This was also a great relief to me, so she would not experience an interrupted access to her funds.  Inasmuch as my account was the “sponsor” account, I myself did have to be issued a new debit card.

So, the lesson here… I was told to change my passwords often and to make sure my electronic devices were secure and protected.  And I personally think you should make sure that your financial & bank institutions have in place “state-of-the-art” fraud detection and defense against world-wide hackers, …because they are out there!