If you are on the internet in any capacity and not just purchasing goods and online banking, then here’s the bad news -- people are trying to get your personal financial information. It’s a sad truth and a scary one. But it is a truth nonetheless.
Hackers have exposed the personal information of hundreds of millions of Americans (roughly half of the nation'sadults, in the last few years.
That massive number is even more concerning by the amount of hacked accounts -- up to almost 500 million. Some $2.7 billion in online theft and fraud was reported to the FBI last year alone.
In the event that your personal information is compromised online, here are some things you can do right away to fix the problem:
Don’t fall for it
A favorite way for hackers is to contact you, pretending to be your bank. Or pretending to be the IRS or some other official sounding institution. Here’s the thing. The FBI or the IRS or any official government agency is NEVER going to call you to tell you that you owe them money and that you need to go to the local pharmacy and purchase gift cards to pay it off. This will never happen. So just don’t fall for it.
If you are suspicious, even slightly, hang up and call the bank back, or call whoever said they were calling you, but look up the official phone number and call back. You at least know that you’re talking to someone at the actual bank/agency, etc. and not some hacker in a foreign call center.
Another trick that these lowlifes use is to send you official looking emails from Google or Apple or some other popular company, asking you to click on a button and verify your account by entering your username and password. This also will NEVER happen from the actual companies. One surefire way to spot a fake email is to look at the sender’s email address. If it’s GoogleOfficialEmail@AOL.com - well, you see the glaring obviousness of their ruse right away.
And if you’re in doubt, you can always check online resources to see if the email you received was part of a bigger scam.
Shut them out
Change your passwords, and lock the hackers out of your account right away! As for more sensitive information, such as credit accounts or bank profiles online, the best thing to do is contact the bank right away, and follow their recommended security measures. If you are a large company, the best thing to do is contact a legal professional who can help guide you through the process.
Isolate the issue
If a computer is infected with a hacker virus, allowing them to access your information, the best thing to do is find out which computer it is if you have more than one, and get rid of the infection as quickly as possible. If it’s a work computer, contact your IT department, or if the machine is at home, then contact a trusted tech support service that can help you service your computer.
If your system is one that gives access to other people’s information, such as a company with multiple accounts, containing people’s sensitive financial or personal info, then the best thing to do is alert those people right away that passwords and logins need to be changed immediately.
If it were just your email, then once you’ve blocked the hackers out with password updates, you can apologize for any inconvenience based on spam email being sent out from your account as needed.
Make a record of it
Make notes of the data breach, and include actions taken to resolve it. This will inform any future upgrades to security issues and help plan and deal with any potential future hacks.
If your identity is stolen and hackers have access to your credit information, the results can be costly and can take years to recover from. Until the level of compromise is understood, it might be wise to put a hold on your credit file until the situation is resolved. Contact customer service at the creditors or banks and ask for their help.
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