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skype got hackedIt’s so embarrassing. Here I am, a contributor at MakeUseOf with a background in data security, and I’m about to tell you how my Skype account got hacked. Not years ago before I became aware of the various threats and the signs that an intrusion had occurred, but recently. Just last Christmas.

The worst thing about this is that I’d noticed that there was something not quite right about the way the account was behaving, but in the heady Christmas rush I’d put it down to Microsoft’s recent changes to the service (after all, it’s hardly been the same since the new centralised data centre was introduced in place of the previous P2P system, has it?).

The hacker was clever, too, using my account just a little to call his relatives/associates in Pakistan. In fact he’d used so little of the first bunch of Skype call credit that it wasn’t until the second grab for extra credit that I noticed anything was wrong. Unfortunately, I wasn’t the only one slow off the mark, resulting in a painful and needlessly drawn-out process of confirming my identification several times.

The First Alert From Skype

It wasn’t until my 37th birthday that I received an email from Skype, informing me that my account was under review.

Immediately I realised what had been going on, the pieces of the jigsaw falling into place. To describe me as angry would be something of an understatement (especially as I had recently had this guide to three Skype security issues published 3 Skype Security Issues and Threats You Should Know About 3 Skype Security Issues and Threats You Should Know About The world’s favourite voice over IP, text, voice and video chat system, Skype is one of those rare things, an app that has found a place in the hearts and minds of computer and smartphone... Read More ) – but rather than wishing any harm on the sorry excuse for a human being whose non-existent morals are contributing to an unprecedented level of theft and fraud, I was angry with myself for not recognizing the signs.

Now, this is where you need to be aware. This first email from Skype will require you to resolve a few security issues and change your password. However, it isn’t the end of the matter, and will not enable you to regain full control of your account.

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As I was keen to get my money refunded (claimed and spent fraudulently, of course) I turned my attention to this, forgetting that I was unable to call telephones through Skype for the time being.

Christmas Phone Calls Home

Why would anyone want to hack my Skype account? Why should anyone hack yours?

Basically to make calls without any expense to themselves, I guess. Certainly the details that Skype provided indicated purchases made from Pakistan and while it is easy to throw in the “terrorism” word, these hackers could just as easily be affiliated with the opium trade or human trafficking as any other criminal activity.

skype got hacked

The fact is, they actively attempt to hack Skype accounts in order to use your money to add credit, and do so with a certain amount of guile in order not to raise suspicion. Look at the low amounts they purchased!

Remember, they only need one account.

How Did They Hack My Account?

What was most interesting about my experience is that I was still able to use my Skype account. I had made several Skype-to-Skype calls in the interim for podcasting purposes (using Skype call recording software How to Use Skype to Record Calls or Conduct Interviews with HotRecorder (Windows) How to Use Skype to Record Calls or Conduct Interviews with HotRecorder (Windows) Read More ), and never had to change passwords.

The reason for this, I soon realised, was that my password had been revealed to the hacker. While this might have occurred using wireless sniffing technology over an unsecured connection How To Combat WiFi Security Risks When Connecting To A Public Network How To Combat WiFi Security Risks When Connecting To A Public Network As many people now know, connecting to a public, unsecured wireless network can have serious risks. It’s known that doing this can provide an opening for all manner of data theft, particularly passwords and private... Read More , I’m more inclined to suspect that the password was acquired via an Android app. Which one, I can’t say, but this seems the most likely culprit.

Claiming Back Stolen Credit

If your Skype account has been hacked and credit purchased from your bank or PayPal account, you can claim it back. I made sure that both Skype and PayPal knew that I was requesting refunds, sending emails of complaint to both.

While the process of finding the required details for the transactions was slow (see the next section) the actual refunds were processed within a day, restoring my faith in the system somewhat.

skype account got hacked

What was particularly galling was that despite having setup a maximum credit purchase of £10 per transaction (see above), the scammer was not limited in his ability to get free calls back to Pakistan. Normally I would recommend you set up this option if you have any concerns about security, but it seems that it cannot save you from losing money.

Reclaiming Control Of My Skype Account

It was only a couple of weeks ago that I realised that my Skype account was still only usable for Skype-to-Skype calls. Had I subconsciously wished never to spend a penny on the service and left the VOIP to landline element in limbo as retribution?

I’m not certain, really, but I can tell you that reclaiming control of my Skype account was a 45 minute process that involved answering five questions on the website’s dedicated page and then (after presumably getting one of them wrong) being sent into text chat with a Skype representative to answer more questions.

skype got hacked

The purpose here, of course, was to confirm my identity. How on earth it took so long I don’t know, but like anything that requires communication with someone in a remote support centre, it seemed to take far longer than it actually did.

If there is any way to avoid this, you’ll need to have a good idea of when you set up your Skype account, and four other pieces of personal information. Frustratingly, I got this wrong.

Happily, however, I eventually got Skype sorted out – just in time to make an important phone call!

It Happened to Me, It Can Happen To You!

I’ve authored a fair few articles and essays both online and offline over the years concerning user account security and the growing number of risks and threats. To find that I had fallen foul of this sort of scam is pretty galling, I’ll be honest.

If anything, however, I’ve proved to you (and myself of course) that regardless of your knowledge or expertise, active threats persist, and it only takes a moment of ignorance for you to find that you’re losing money from right under your nose.

There are lessons to be learned here. Luckily I had a limit on the amount of Skype credit I could purchase, otherwise the culprit might have emptied my bank account (or at least my PayPal account).

I should also have acted upon the strange activity on my Skype account. To this day I can’t understand why I let this pass, but again, it could have been all down to the Christmas rush, a time when our guards are often dropped.

So, let my experience be a lesson to you. Anyone can get scammed, and these criminals will take advantage of the slightest weakness in your armoury. They can find your password using mobile apps or wireless network sniffing, and are part of massive organized rings.

Avoid my experience. Update your Skype password regularly, along with that of any associated accounts. Keep an eye out for unusual activity, don’t rely on the service itself to alert you within any reasonable timescale and have a clear-out of apps on your mobile device, particularly Android. Finally, should you fail to keep your account under your control, be prepared for a few hours of painfully slow web or telephone chats with Skype personnel in order to regain full control.

Don’t let this happen to you!  Or if it did happen to you, let us know in the comments how the experience was in your case.

  1. Tulia
    September 25, 2016 at 5:18 am

    A former female friend of mine ( clearly a frenemy I had not identified) backstabbed me by intruding into my life. She always seemed annoyed by me, and could not fake it enough.
    After a while, somehow someone broke over and over into my studio apartment when there was no survelliance cameras, nor doorman in the building. Several times I found my apartment door unlocked, and objects that did not belong to me, or off the place. The building front door was broken most of the times. I had no idea my cellphone was hacked (thank you T-Mobile for your help), and it was acting odd for months, and decided to replace it for a new samsung galaxy note 3. The problem continued, and in the meantime, this individual mingled with other women also from the same group of friends and started trying to convince me from doing the things I was getting into since I was having fun reinventing myself after an unhappy marriage...eating healthy foods, working out, fashion, etc. I wanted to acquire new interests and learn as much as possible, because afterall, I was raised overprotected, and had not had many experiences and opportunities in my life being born and raised on a very tiny and remote town. I thought it was strange that they will mention so often conversation topics that I only sustained with my family members of my co-worker. Also in several opportunities when I met new people (male and female), I noticed that this woman will speak with them afterwards while looking at me, and these new people never approached me again and/or avoided me. I never had given up on meeting whom I call Mr. Wonderful in my life, but I knew for sure that I wanted to take my time and for some good time make new genuine friends because I was a new inmigrant and barely knew people here. So she started showing herself as a "friendly" person, quite overacted, trying to gain attention, but I was confident with what I was made of, after all, the greatest compliment to greatness is imitation. In several ocasions this woman embarrased me in front of others, but once she looked really bad in front of the other people, perhaps they critized her, and couple of weeks later she prepared me a surprised birthday party I guess to show herself as a good person mantaining her image. -When she approached the tray of cupcakes for me to take mine, you had to see the look of anger in her face, and lifted pushing the tray against me briefly like to want to throw them on my face, but nobody noticed it, and I still overlooked at it, because I was too naive. This woman with the others of the group were obviously jealous and envious I think because I was friendly, but never really felt negative towards them, and rather embraced them because they were "Christians" and did not want to have enmity with them, after all most of them were younger than I, and they were almost my only friends.
    They schemed me, set me up and connived against me by humiliating me in front of my Church community making me to look like a person who is mentally unstable and desperate to find a man. Sadly the way they framed me, I never learned what really was exposed or told about me because my Yahoo, Gmail, LinkedIn, Instagram and Pinterest accounts were hacked as well, and you never know what they can do while you are not all the time on your apps. I noticed my cellphone was more active late at night, and ofter my location was activated when I never really had to use that option. I found a charge effectuated into my credit card towards Groupon for which I had to file a dispute, and my bank refunded it, but since I had been telling these things happening to my family over my cellphone and Skype, I just kept giving them time to plan their next moves. Later I discovered that the dispute was dropped (in other words, they impersonated me over the phone to drop it), and instead filed a couple of disputes on other charges effectuated previously on my credit card towards Groupon. Imagine the group of people, a young attorney, a pastor and his wife among others with respectable positions. Too much to loose if I had been smart enough like to gather evidences. Who do you think people and authorities would have believed? Of course I had everything against me. Once they know all about your personal information, they can manipulate your life as if you were a puppet, They did nothing but to gaslight me. Often I was on the phone when I heard clickings and beepings that the person on the other end could not hear. They would lower or raise the volume of my voice so the person could not hear me forcing me to repeat over and over what I said raising my voice, or viceversa. They tried to stop me from doing online shopping, and even once I tried to place an order over the phone, and the CSR was experiencing the same problem with the sounds over the communication and they dropped my call. This is just to mention few of the many of the things they did to me.
    Since 2012 these persons have been bullying me, and sadly have access to my two Skype accounts, because after I created the new one, I am sure they were able to hack me through the Skype accounts of my family members (they have not changed their routers, nor their emails addresses, nor their skype accounts, and have not factory reset their devices like to start all fresh from scratch). The problem never seems to end. I had to travel back to my home country as I learned I had to attend a funeral. The night I purchased my ticket I call the airline in front of my pc Skype as I was searching for the flights, and gave my new cellphone number and Gmail to the agent over the phone, and that very same night I received a notification that something was wrong with my Pinterest account. But as I was running out off time, I could not really take a moment to think about reviewing all my online accounts.
    When I returned a week later, I tried to Skype my mother, and I could see her video, but a black big pop up screen said that another application was using my webcam, and my mother could not see me at all. I signed out from Skype, and restarted my pc, but was not able to access to my Skype account, until 3 weeks later when Skype Customer Service was able to confirm my identity and re-stablish my account. Regarding my Pinterest account, when I created it I told my family I was not going to be able to share it with nobody due to the stalking problem I had been dealing with, so nobody had it, and since they knew my cousin's pinterest account, that same night they hacked into her account to send me a pin message to my account. Nowadays you can be a victim of hacking and stalking, all the person needs is your email, cell or land line phone number or skype account. Don't you ever attemp to link your car to your devices, nor On-Star. It all looks like ADT Security is hackable as well.
    There are people with narcisistic personalities who actually can spend time harrassing others. It almost feel like an obsession over me, and it is not only annoying but it makes me affraid of what they could actually do because everytime I think I am freed from their harrassment and feel I can move on with my life, they show up with something else.
    I hope some of you will find this post helpful like to be aware of the dangers online, and be more aware, analitic and selective when it comes to share information with your contacts. I had to accept that some insecure women may not like me, and some people are enough unhappy and haters like to not want see others trying to make themselves happy and successful. God bless.

  2. helphelp2013
    April 17, 2016 at 6:51 am

    Yes if you need any help contect me skype : helphelp2013

  3. Adico
    January 23, 2016 at 6:30 am

    Would someone hack my account to make calls to people I know?

  4. Ron_mac
    July 21, 2013 at 12:09 pm

    Have read your article and in it you mentioned a number that you called to help resolve the issue. My issue is my account has been suspended for the last 2 weeks, I have jumped through the information hoops that you mention 3 names username and the like, all to no avail they just say that the account will remain suspended and cut the live chat sessions. To date I have made contact on about 5 different occasions and still waiting for someone from Skype to contact me with a reason and when and if the account will be re-instated. Today contacted them again to get a refund of any unused credit and to close the account the live chat session was to say the least abruptly terminated with no type of explanation at all. Can you help

  5. Joel Thomas
    March 17, 2013 at 1:44 pm

    sure is a warning for all of us

  6. Richard Borkovec
    March 14, 2013 at 12:01 pm

    I have PayPal set up to email me any time any transaction is posted to it, and I don't have any money account connected to Skype at all (I only use it for Skype-to-Skype). I have had my PayPal hacked before, and that wasn't nearly as hard to get fixed and get my money refunded. Glad you got it sorted though.

  7. Nevzat Akkaya
    March 14, 2013 at 8:22 am

    Sorry for you, but glad you've resolved it, Christian.

  8. susendeep dutta
    March 14, 2013 at 7:26 am

    So,in short,one must never sign in to service that are short termed and that we might forget after a due course of time.

    We must never use app that are third party ones and especially the unpopular Android apps as they are unsecure to latest threats or any other loopholes which are fixed quickly in popular apps.

    If we are never going to use a service,then we must either keep changing the passwords or else delete our accounts.

    I hope,your horror incident will wake up anyone to take full security measures and change their passwords regularly.

  9. Jean-Michel A
    March 14, 2013 at 2:40 am

    changed password every three months to six depending on the seriousness and the best thing i don't even know them and they are totally unrelated ....

  10. Alexis Ceroleni
    March 14, 2013 at 1:29 am

    You put an image showing your email

    • ccawley
      March 14, 2013 at 3:44 pm

      it's okay, it's a special email address ;)

  11. Rama moorthy
    March 14, 2013 at 1:22 am

    My hosting cPanel account was hacked ,some few weeks ago .. after that I found due to a virus in my computer .so cleaned it ,and now safe ...

  12. Christian
    March 13, 2013 at 9:25 pm

    Did you include the wrong picture above this part?

    "What was particularly galling was that despite having setup a maximum credit purchase of £10 per transaction (see above), the scammer was not limited in his ability to get free calls back to Pakistan."

    Because the picture I see shows an option to top up the credit account with £10 if it falls below £2, not an option to limit the amount spent at one time.

    • Christian Cawley
      March 13, 2013 at 9:34 pm

      Ah, yes, it's the "(see above)" that throws the context out. The image was only ever supposed to be an illustration of what you can do, not what I did before uncovering the scam.

  13. Bob
    March 13, 2013 at 8:28 pm

    Depending on your needs I have my skype account set up so I pay GBP16 for 3 months and I have unlimited calls to landlines in Europe. Everytime a purchase is made through paypal I also receive an email which would hopefully alert me quickly to any unauthorised debits. But it is good to know that Skype will respond quickly to any problems raised

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