Last month, my bank account was hacked and I lost two thousand dollars, almost. Here’s how it all happened.
It all started when I received an email from my bank that someone had looked up my username. Spooked, I went to my bank’s login page and clicked “forgot username.” I was then taken to a page that asked for my last name, social security number and birthday. I quickly entered all that and my username popped up on the next page. Then I received an identical email that someone had just looked up my username.
Well crap, that means someone knows my last name, social security number and birthday!
Fortunately, nothing was stolen from my account, so I assumed that the b*****d couldn’t crack my password. But to be safe, I changed my password anyway and went to bed.
The next morning I noticed that my Mint app couldn’t connect to a different bank of mine. Curious, I entered my username and password at the bank’s website and couldn’t log on. So I requested an email to reset my login info. Still nothing.
After a few frustrated attempts, I finally logged on via an alternative validation method. That’s when I saw the following transactions:
- $1,100.00 bill payment to Michael Harrington in West Virginia; memo: dentist
- $930.00 bill payment to Richard Diamond in Charleston, South Carolina; memo: maid services
My email address had also been changed in my account profile.
M*****f***** tried to steal $2,030.00 from my account and changed my email address so I wouldn’t get a notification!
I quickly cancelled out of both transactions, called my bank, closed my account and opened a new one. Then I filed an identity theft report with the police, the IRS and the FTC. I also placed a fraud alert on all my credit reports.
So here’s what I learned from my experience:
I should check my bank accounts every day.
I’m sure a lot of us personal finance bloggers already do this, but I can’t stress how important it is. If I hadn’t checked my account quickly enough I would not have been able to stop those transactions in time. Sure, most banks protect you from fraudulent transactions that are discovered within 60 days, but once those funds leave your account you have to deal with your bank’s fraud department to get that money reimbursed. That’s more work than I care to do.
I should use different passwords and change them often.
Although I have a ton of accounts, I absolutely hated the idea of using a different password for each one. Of course I’d also never been hacked before, but that’s because I simply didn’t have any money. Now that I have money, it’s that much more important to protect myself from cyber thieves. So I’m using a different password for every account now and changing them frequently.
I should scan my computer for viruses every week.
I consider myself a pretty tech savvy guy and since I avoid sites that look sketchy, I didn’t think that my computer could get hacked. That’s why I hardly ever ran a virus scan.
Now I run a quick scan almost every other day. You just can’t be too careful.
Mint is a life saver.
Seriously, if it hadn’t been for Mint, it may have taken me days or weeks before I checked that particular bank account. After all, I have about a dozen of them. But with Mint, I was able to check all of my accounts within minutes and discover the breach.
All in all, I feel lucky that I came out of this experience unscathed. I’d like to think that I’m a little wiser now, and I hope that this will be the first and last time that my bank account gets hacked.