Identity Theft Experience
The past two weeks I have been dealing with a major identity theft issue. It started with access to one of my VoIP providers where close to $1000 in payments were issued, next it went to my paypal account where a $500 payment was sent to someone and then another $1000 was transfered out of my banking account. Finally, my wife’s Audible.com account was accessed and $200 in stuff was ordered.Â So what should you do if you find this is happening to you? Here are a few quick steps to stop the attacker as quickly as possible.
- Contact your bank immediately! You will almost certainly need to cancel your credit/debit cards to prevent additional charges from hitting. If you have things like Paypal set to pull money directly from your account, you may need to even cancel your bank account and open a new one to stop any further charges from occuring.
- Contact the police. File a police report, even if the bank says they are taking care of it. This will help you if you need to file additional claims.
- Change every password in every system you can think of. You should make a list of every account you have and even put a password hint on it (don’t store your passwords somewhere). Then, if you need to go through and change them all you will have a list. This includes email accounts, online banking, forums, everything.
- Never use the same passwords for everything. If you are in the habit of using the same password for everything you ever need to log into, at MINIMUM it should not be the same as your email password and all of your passwords for important things like banks, paypal, ebay, etc should all be unique. This way if they get into one system, they can’t get into your others.
Should this happen to you, expect to make lots of phone calls, fax around lots of documents, and expect the entire process will take 2-3 weeks to resolve. In the meantime you may be without debit/credit cards and even without a checking account. Yes, that is a living hell these days, but the sooner you shut everything down the less damage can occur.
Be safe out there!