People presume that you’ve been visiting “dodgy” websites if you admit that your credit card has been compromised. But that’s not usually the case: for instance, just last year, the massive discount retailer Target was hacked.
Potentially, 40 million US customers could’ve had their data stolen.
If your credit card has been hacked, you’re probably feeling a bit embarrassed and angry. You’re no doubt panicking too, like you’re racing against the clock to reclaim your account. Yes, there is some degree of urgency, but hackers are at their most dangerous when they’re invisible. Once you know there’s something wrong with your accounts, you can do something about it.
It’s important not to panic. It’s no good for you, and it certainly won’t help.
So, after calming down a bit, what do you do next?
Find Out Who To Contact
… And talk to them!
It could be your credit card company, your bank or building society. This is, of course, if they haven’t contacted you already. It’s more than likely they’re the ones that have found the problem. It’s also possible that you checked through your statements and thought it odd you made $1 payments to a yacht firm or something. Hackers use smaller amounts to test the waters, and whilst you may think such a small fee would be glaringly obvious, it’s become increasingly popular to pay for goods like newspapers using credit or debit cards.
The company will run through your recent outgoings, so you’ll need some your statements and receipts to hand.
Check Your Transactions
We’re not all perfect and few of us (unless you’re a sole trader) pore through their bank statements every month. But you’ll need to look through it all. It may be tedious, but it’s important.
Correlate any purchases with your online accounts. Thanks to 1-Click Ordering, it’s so easy to buy through Amazon, for example, and you’ll need to know exactly which orders were made by you. In most cases, your credit card company will refund you what the scammers have taken.
If your bank hasn’t already arranged for one, request a new credit card and change your PIN.
Scan – BEFORE Recovery!
How did the scammers get in and find your details? This is a good time to cover all bases. It might be that your card was cloned in a shop, but it could equally be a keylogger.
Restart your computer and go into Safe Mode by tapping F8. Check out our guide to Safe Mode and its uses. Scan and update your security before recovery; ideally, you’re recovering from an initial recovery from when you installed your computer. A recovery image made later on – but after another virus scan – is just as good.
Once you’ve restored an older image of your system, you might like to do another virus check, which should locate any automated malware. It is, after all, better to be safe than sorry.
To make a scan quicker, a disc clean-up will delete your temporary Internet and Windows files; generally, you can do this through the Start menu:
Start > All Programs > Accessories > System Tools > Disk Cleanup
After it calculates the amount of space it’ll free up, make sure the fields Downloaded Program Files, Temporary Internet Files and Temporary Files, are checked, and then carry on with the cleanup.
Tackling Your Passwords
You’ll need to reset your passwords – but only after the problem has been resolved. Changing passwords while keyloggers are still lurking in the background is like handing a stranger a sticky note with your PIN on.
This includes the network key on your router. Scammers can intercept your network traffic by hacking into your WiFi connection. It’s pretty simple to do, yet so many leave their networks open to attack, often by leaving the default key in place: here’s a brief step-by-step guide to securing your wireless network.
By now, we all really know what makes a good password, though many still plump for something simple like ‘12345678.’ Don’t do that. We’ve got several tips for creating a secure password, but you probably have your own way of coming up with something memorable. You can even check how strong your password is.
Look through your apps as well and revoke those you don’t trust or recognise. Change your Apple and Google passwords after this and if you’re worried about transactions through your iPhone, for example, request a support call. The staff will be more than happy to help and can arrange refunds too.
Check Emails & Settings
Review your personal email settings. Scammers might’ve added forwarding email address so they can read any updated accounts information – delete these immediately. You should also check your sent items folder too or any unusual activity.
Next, check the links in your email signature. Malicious links added by hackers may have been sent to every contact in your address book. Obviously, make any necessary changes.
Talk to people. As we say, there’s nothing to be embarrassed about, and maybe your experiences will educate someone and stop it happening to them.
According to the UK Card Association, £46.5 billion was spent on cards in January 2014 alone, accounting for over 954 million transactions. We use cards for almost everything nowadays and of course, risks exist. But it’s important you don’t panic or get paranoid about it. If the worst happens you can talk to the right people and ensure that the correct steps are taken quickly.