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Each day, people click or swipe to make an online purchase, register for a webinar, submit a loan application or post on social media. All the while, fraudsters are trying to steal their personal and financial data and use it without their knowledge.
So, what should do you if you fall victim to a cyber-attack? It may seem like things are out of your control, but there are vital steps you can take to halt the loss and get help quickly.
Scammers will try to steal debit card, credit card or bank account information to make unauthorized purchases or drain cash from your account. If this happens, the Cybercrime Support Network, funded by the U.S. Department of Justice, recommends that you:
- Contact your bank or credit card provider to cancel compromised cards and report fraud;
- Change passwords and pin numbers for affected cards or accounts;
- Document when you noticed the fraudulent charges and reported them to your bank; and
- Add a fraud alert or freeze your credit an annualcreditreport.com.
No one wants to think about having their accounts compromised, but it’s important to check your bank statement often for unusual activity, and have a backup method of payment in case you’re unable to use your primary card. You can even save your bank or credit card company’s helpline number in your phone’s contacts for quick access when you need it most.
Cyber-attacks can also look like someone using your information to open a mortgage, posing as debt collectors to bully you into paying a debt you don’t owe, or soliciting money for a fraudulent investment. In cases like this, recommended steps include:
- Save all emails, texts and other records from the scammer to use when filing a report;
- Contact your bank to close or freeze any compromised accounts;
- If you already sent the scammer money, contact your bank immediately;
- If you wired money, call the complaint department of MoneyGram at 1-800-MONEYGRAM (1-800-666-3947) or Western Union at 1-800-448-1492; and
- If you suspect that a friend or family member is a victim of wire fraud, email a block request to [email protected].
Hacking social media accounts to obtain personal information or request money from followers is another type of cyber-attack. If your account is hacked, change and strengthen your password immediately. It’s important to change your password for other accounts, especially if you’ve used the same password in multiple places. One of the most important steps you can take is to enable two-step verification, which requires an additional code to log in.
After you’ve taken the initial steps of reporting fraud, and canceling your cards or freezing accounts if necessary, you may wonder how your case will be handled next. In some cases, your bank will need to discuss your case further.
Your bank’s Dispute team will call you if they need additional information in order to complete research into your disputed charges. This is where good record keeping comes in. It’s important to make notes or keep files pertaining to how and when you reported the fraud, who you spoke to and the type of loss you experienced.
You may receive provisional credit back to your account within 5 business days, unless the Dispute team needs to do additional research into the situation. If you requested a new debit or credit card, you can expect it to arrive within 7-10 business days.
Cyber-attacks can throw your finances into turmoil, but knowing what steps to take in a crisis can mitigate your loss and put you back on the road to recovery.