Today I want to talk about something that is definitely not fun at all: your bank account getting hacked. It’s something that isn’t fun and it’s downright scary. And earlier this week, it happened to me. Fortunately, I had some settings on my bank account set up so that I knew right away when it happened, but I want to talk about what you do when it does happen and how to be proactive in hopefully preventing it.
Monday evening after I got home from work, I was eating dinner at my table when my phone began buzzing. It was multiple alerts going off at once, and when I looked at my phone, they were all from Chase, my bank. First one was overdrawn account (I just paid rent). The second alert was about a transaction over a certain limit. Then I aw an alert saying that someone tried to spend $300+ at H&M.
Oh, just an hour after I had purchased groceries here in Austin.
Checking my bank account, I also saw someone tried to spend $3 at a hotel in Vermont (though if you ask me, spending $3 at a hotel means you’re doing it wrong). Right away, I called my bank and spent an hour confirming my identity, address, and finally canceling the card.
Thankfully I was quick and able to cancel the card and file a fraud complaint. But there are certain steps you need to take when you realize that your card or account has been hacked.
1. Call the Bank and Shut it Down
About five minutes after I got the notification, I was calling the bank. Thankfully they had noticed there was suspicious activity on my account and emailed me while I was on the phone with them. I went through several rounds of customer service to get a new card, get expedited shipping, and finally get my current card canceled.
2. Go Through and Mark Any Strange Charges
I was really lucky that the hackers were stupid and went shopping for a lot of money at first, but I know people who find they’ve been hacked for a week before they realized it. Depending on the damage done, you’ll need to let your bank know. But first, make sure you cancel the card – because they can still keep shopping.
3. Check Your Email
After I got off the phone with Chase, I had an email from them showing me additional charges that were denied from the get-go (the ones in Chicago and Vermont were originally approved and then declined after the fact). These charges included charges to an escort site and multiple charges from the United Kingdom. While it’s definitely scary, it’s nice to know that the bank denied these right away.
These three steps are the ones you should focus on at the beginning, as soon as you realize you’ve been hacked. Depending on what actions you and the bank take (like canceling your cards), there’ll be other things you’ll need to do later on.If Your Bank Account is hacked, it's a nightmare. But here's what you need to do if it happens… Click To Tweet
4. Activate Your New Card
When it finally comes (I’m still waiting on mine a few days later), call and activate your card. My card was canceled right before I needed gas, so while I’m on the weekend, I’m stuck at home. Because no card to use and no card to get money out of the bank to use for gas. As soon as you get it, call and activate your card.
5. Update Online Payment Systems
If you use something like Paypal for online payments, it probably relies on your card number. When you get your card, make sure you update it online for all your bills, especially, especially if you do auto billing, please update it.
Once you’ve got all of these updated, you should be good.
But let’s talk about ways you can be smart and proactive before you get hacked.
Let me start by saying that in the 21st century unless you live in the backwoods and sleep with all your money under your mattress – you will get hacked some point in your life. It’s an unfortunate reality of life. There’s no 100%, full-proof way to stay safe but the way I caught the hackers was with alerts.
On my bank account, I get a push notification every time there is a transaction over $120. Considering both my rent and phone bill are more than that, I get that alert multiple times a month. For a while now, I’ve wanted to turn it off. Now that it saved my ass? Heck no, it’s staying on.
Check with your bank to see if you can set up any alerts like this.
As I said before, getting hacked is probably something that will happen in your lifetime. It’s scary and not fun, but knowing what to do if it does happen can make the experience shorter and a tad less painful.
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