Monday, August 15, 2011

Identity Theft...Me? Really?

Part of portfolio John Coulter Illustration by John Coulter
Several weeks ago one of the websites I use for promotion informed its clients that an older area of the site had been hacked.  The hackers had posted several hundred email address and password combos from this site as well as quite a few others.  I immediately went searching all over the internet for places this email address had been used in combination with this particular password.  I found none, but I changed passwords on any potentially vulnerable accounts just in case.


There was nothing I could do about the places I had bought electronic books online using this particular combo that have since gone out of business.  Well, as near as I can figure...one of those sites has come back to bite me in the butt.


My bank noticed the fraudulent use of my credit card right away and contacted me.  Someone had set up an account with Yahoo and Match.com with my info.  Can you imagine?  A dating service.  Me!  Right, 'cuz Hubcap isn't enough for any one woman to handle.  Anyway, those sneaky peets followed up their fraudulent use of my card and attempt to create a different me online with an email to my legit account telling me about it (purporting to be from my bank) and saying all assets were frozen until I signed in (on the link provided of course).  Now, I'd just been in my account to go over the fraudulent charges with my bank, so I knew that claim to be false.


The email looked very legit though.  I've gotten so many non-legit ones, I know the signs to look for...misspelled words, odd phrasing, etc.  This email had none of them.  However, I have a policy of NEVER signing into money related accounts through an email link.  I always go to the home webpage and sign in from there when in question.  Good thing too...as these emails were clearly phishing emails.


I'm really grateful my bank caught onto the fraudulent charges early, but let me tell you...for a lot of people, those charges would not have raised a red flag.  But I don't Skype, I don't use dating services (even the really good ones LOL) and I pay for things like Yahoo Mail with a separate credit card I *don't* use to pay for anything else and is not linked to my bank account.  And still, I feel like there's a whole passel of security measures that are going to be going into place in the next days and weeks.


I figure we can help each other out with that, right?  What things to do you do to protect your identity in this world of online shopping, banking and book buying? 

18 comments:

girlygirlhoosier52 said...

I really hadn't thought about it from that standpoint.. But I do appreciate your sharing your experiences.. frightening, isn't it!

Judy said...

I worry about that. I even had a company email me to let me know that my email addy had been stolen, but they also told me what to expect, ie, receiving legitimate looking emails. I did, for a while, but they all included links I had to click on, so I knew they weren't legitimate. I also watch my credit purchases. I write them into my checkbook as if they were a check, so I have to be able to check them off when the statement arrives. Sorry you had to deal with that headache.

Maria said...

I've been a victim of debit card fraud twice in the last 12 months. One of the biggest things I found to be a security nightmare was something as simple as checking your security settings on both your computer and on your home network...it was an awakening and I had to contact my internet provider to get involved. Another security measure my bank put me onto is never letting the card out of your sight - ie at a restaurant when the waitress/waiter walkes off with your card - they told me to pay restaurants in cash as they have been having issues with the waitress/waiter copying the number while they wait for the charge to go through. A third recommendation was to use an "aluminum" or theft security type wallet - yeah those RFID scaners are cheap to purchase and you don't need to be a bank or vendor to get one.....it's been a real pain to have to deal with but I've been taking the lessons to heart!

Dannyfiredragon said...

I heard from a lot of friends that there e-mail accounts were hacked and recently Writerspace was hacked, they got my e-mail there and now I get tons of spam mails.

I was also the victim of credit card fraud, but that wasn't online. The information was stolen at the RT hotel in Orlando 2009. They bought stuff for over 1600 bucks, fortunately I didn't have to pay for it.

Lucy Monroe said...

This is just too darn common, isn't it? I'd been thinking about getting one of those aluminum wallets for a while, I guess now is the time. With my agoraphobia, I don't eat out often...so I guess that's a blessing in disguise! LOL Still, I'll definitely keep more cash on me in future so I have to use my card less.

Judy said...

You can simply wrap your card in aluminum foil, too. I tear off a strip wider than my card, fold it in half, and then fold it so the aluminum enfolds it like in a pocket. It holds its shape pretty well, and when it becomes worn, I simply replace it. I don't use my cards much, so I don't need frequent access to them. And I'm trying to save as much money as possible. :-)

Jane said...

I'm always worried about this kind of stuff. There are many phishing emails that you can identify right off the bat and then there are the ones that look so legitimate. I've learned never to click through any of the links. I'll just type in the web address to ensure that it's the real site.

Lucy Monroe said...

Judy...that's clever. So I don't have to give up my wallet that matches my purse. :) I'm so OCD about some things. Like really, really. My kids call me Mrs. Monk. LOL

Jane...me too, but I know too many people that have been taken in and it makes me so mad.

Judy F said...

That is scary. My aol account got hacked a few weeks ago. Luckily a friend texted me right away so I was able to change my password right away. I change my banking password as well.

Glad your bank caught it right away.

Judy said...

It isn't fancy, but I bought a little "purse" leather pouch at the Ren Faire that I use, and needed keep the cards the size they were. I saw the aluminum foil idea on a tip about products that aren't really necessary. Keep enjoying your wallet! :-)

Lucy Monroe said...

JudyF...that's something I think would be really devastating...someone getting into my email I store so much there. Glad you got your password changed so quickly. :)

Jane...I love quirky answers to common problems. They just make me happy. Hubcap bought the aluminum wallet though. Not only did he want the safety feature, he likes how sturdy it is. Cool for him, not so cool for Ms. Wants Everything to Match. LOL

catslady said...

It's all very scary. We got a call from our bank one day wanting to know if we were making charges from Singapore. I was even afraid to talk with her but she ended up being legit. But it happened twice, even after we got another new card. I was unhappy that our bank did not catch it (even though we didn't have to pay but they did which does end up back to everyone in the long run). I had a phone identification service on my computer which I know was the problem because it was the only place we used this card for and it was an automatic payment so they go ahold of the new card too. Of course they denied it (and no one ever spoke good english so they were probably from overseas). Obviously we canceled it.

Then just last week someone got ahold of my email address and was sending spam with my name. I thought I took care of it but I made the mistake of putting my old password back after changing it so it happened again the next day. I totally changed all my passwords (such a pain) and after some panic because I wasn't able to reply to any emails for a while, all is fixed for the moment anyway. I think this happened by signing some petition somewhere so I am now ignoring those completely.

It's seems like it is only getting worse as times goes on. I guess changing your passwords more often would help.

Anne said...

I don't do as much as I should. My credit card has been used fraudulently once a year for the last three years. 2 out of the 3 were for foreign purchases. My bank contacted me fairly quickly asking me to verify the purchases and sent me new cards, so I wasn't out any money, it was just inconvenient. For my online banking and credit cards I use a different password than for other not so important stuff.

I have checked my credit report, but I don't do it every year like I should.

Virginia said...

I haven't really thought about these things much! I really don't do much on line except order books from time to time. Its a scary thing though. I have been getting a lot more junk emails now. I think I may need to change addy.

Sherry said...

It happened to my parents about 5 years ago. Someone activated a credit card offer they had ignored and ordered over $3000 worth of computer equipment. Luckily for my parents the thieves transposed two of the numbers when they entered the information and the company called my parents to verify the purchase.

Lucy's Promo said...

This is exactly why my mom won't do anything online! I hope she doesn't read this!

Lucy Monroe said...

Catslady...a couple of the fraudulent charges on my card were from Luxembourg. My first worry? I have a lot of readers in Germany...I hope they didn't see this alternate Lucy Monroe ID before it got taken down.

I've heard you should change passwords periodically. I only do it about every two years - I think I need to make that a heck of a lot more frequent.

Anne...it's so ridiculous that it just happens again and again and again.

Virginia...if you can change your addy without undue hardship, I do think that's one of the easiest fixes for spam, etc.

Sherry...that's the kind of thing we all shudder to think could happen. I'm glad it didn't go any farther and destroy their credit. What a pain; but what a blessing too.

Promo Gal...LOL You know I won't tell her! :)

CrystalGB said...

I have identity theft protection for my checking account and I won't order from places that I am leary of being secure. I hate that people do this.