One of My Online Accounts Was Hacked!

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A little while back I received a couple of early morning text messages from my Discover Card account.  It was notifying me of charges of around $400 each on one of my online retailer accounts where we frequently make purchases.

I typically don’t receive text messages at 1 AM.  When I heard my phone make the silence-piercing ding a couple of times in a row I rolled over and took a peek at it.

Once seeing the texts I immediately logged into my online retailer account on my phone and cancelled the orders.  They were for a couple of pricey X Box game consoles, one to be picked up at a store in Georgia and another to be picked up at my local store.

After cancelling the orders I immediately changed my password and emailed their support to ensure that the orders were cancelled.  I’m thankful that my credit card account alerted me quickly so that I could take action.

I called Discover the next day to report the activity.  They advised replacing the card so I did.  I also talked to the big box store’s support line to check on the orders again and make sure that they were aware of the activity.

I bring all of this up because I want to hopefully help at least one person, maybe you, or a few if I can.  What are you doing to protect your online accounts?  Are you using the same password for several accounts?  Do you have a credit card linked to accounts where it’s not necessary?  If your answer is yes to any of these questions then you need to do some things to protect yourself.

Start Protecting Yourself Online

You may know that I like lists and steps so here are a few steps to start protecting yourself online.

  • List all of your online accounts including social media.  This is any account where you have a username and password.  Start with the ones that you visit most frequently.
  • Download a password manager and start adding your accounts to it.  This is a piece of software or program that will automatically generate strong and unique passwords for you and keep track of them.
    • When you need to login to a site you simply start the software and copy the password from the account entry.
    • Some managers have advanced features so that you can access your accounts on mobile devices and automatically login from anywhere with a click.
    • Some great and reputable password managers are LastPass (one that I’ve used), DashLane, Keepass, and Sticky Password.
    • As a bonus on sites that offer it, use two factor authentication.  This is where the site requires an additional level of authentication such as entering a code that they send to you via text message when you login.  A few popular ones that I know of that give you this option are Amazon, Google, and Evernote.
  • Set alerts on your credit/debit cards, especially ones you have linked to online accounts.  The text alerts from Discover allowed me to act quickly on the shenanigans.  I actually have all of my alert settings for cards set to the minimum so I know whenever any of my cards get charged.  This allows me to look right away to see if there are unauthorized charges on my cards.
  • Remove any linked credit/debit cards from unnecessary accounts.  Think of sites that you don’t use often and remove them.  You may have added them out of convenience at some point.  If someone does get into your account then they won’t be able to see your credit card information or try to use the card.

It’s easy to let things go and do what is easy when it comes to keeping your information safe online.  Don’t wait until you get hacked to take action.  Once you get a good system in place and make it a priority then you’ll do fine.

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