Um, I Got This Strange Email…

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I was sitting at work a few months ago and I got two order confirmation emails from Best Buy. Hmmmm, I didn’t place any orders. I logged into my account and saw that there were two more items in my cart pending purchase! Someone had hacked into my account and was using my stored credit card to make purchases for downloadable items.

Thankfully I emptied my cart in time and changed my password before they could get another order through. I was also able to straighten out the issue with Best Buy and my credit card company so I got the money refunded. These days thieves have it easy since they can order instantly downloadable items and not get caught with providing a shipping address.

Yesterday my daughter’s email was hacked but the only damage was a few emails sent to my mom and a humorous text exchange with The Kid on the merits of changing her password. Oh the joys of motherhood. Such a proud moment to get the call from Mom that The Kid has sent “strange emails” to her. You also gotta love The Kid’s sense of humor “Ah…” 😉Email Hack

Here are some tips for online safety to lessen the chance of this happening to you:

  • Don’t store your credit card information in your online retail accounts if you don’t have to. If someone does manage to guess your password, this gives them open access to buy things. Yes, you can straighten it out in most cases but that takes time that you can better spend doing things you like to do.
  • Don’t use the same password for all your accounts. If you do then all your accounts are at risk if someone gets the password. Thieves will go through your sent and received emails to figure out who you’ve got accounts with and attempt to use the same password there. Protect yourself with different passwords.
  • Create secure passwords using a combination of letters, numbers and characters. Non words are better than words since they are harder to crack. If you have a favorite phrase or saying, choose the first letter of each word as a base password. For example, “Roses are red, violets are blue” would turn into “rarvab” as your base password. Then throw in something unique to identify the site you use the password for. Maybe the first three letters of the site name separated with a special character. For Amazon use ama and for Chase Bank use cha, so your passwords there might be “rarvab!ama” and “rarvab!cha”. This makes it easy for you to instantly remember the password when you need to login.
  • Obviously if you’ve been hacked, change your passwords immediately and removed stored credit card data. It’s also just good practice to change your password regularly. This adds an extra layer of security.
  • I’ve never used one so I can’t recommend a service specifically, but some suggest using an online password service if you really want to keep your passwords somewhere. These services let you create a master password document and encrypt it for you on their servers. You only have to remember one password (to your data on their site) instead of hundreds. It might be worth a look but make sure to do your research before choosing this route.

With software getting more and more advanced, it doesn’t take long for thieves to crack your passwords and get access to things you don’t want them to. Prevention is much easier than fixing it after the fact. Make it hard for them so it’s easy on you.

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