Hack Attack!

BoomersBy Steve Guss

Two of the worst words you’ll hear in relation to your personal finances these days.

Even the White House is not immune to hacking. There was a widely circulated story bringing Wall Street to its knees temporarily this week. The report included erroneous information that the president was injured.

Closer to home, however, is the realization that identity thieves could be crawling through your personal information as you read this. You open your bank statement to reconcile the account and find a check unlike your regular checks. It’s larger, has an unknown company name and telephone number on its face and THE BANK PAID IT.

It may not be a significent amount, but it’s scary to think that a thief has violated a private part of your life. This person or persons may have also gotten your credt card and retirement portfolio numbers. They could have located your social security information and automatic deposit dates.

Having your personal bank account compromised is not new, It has been occurring for more up to 10 years.

Writing in the personal finance publication, “Helium,” Karen Moore notes that “Legislative action against identity thieves has been a slow response.” She says that “. . .criminals know they can access more money faster by stealing your account information.”

Moore explains that having your checks stolen is one of the easiest ways your checking account can be
compromised. Criminals”. . .go on a shopping spree and can have all of your checks written before you even know your checks were stolen.”

You’re probably thinking that the case above was the simple cashing of a $30.00 check and it’s a quick fix to get your money back and expose the people who sent the bogus check. It’s not.

Every account you have in the bank in question must be changed. This includes the numbered checks and any other accounts with numbers. The faster you get this accomplished, the better. Moore says, “. . . close the account(s) and start fresh. Many accounts stolen end up being used in other states on counterfeit checks.”

Drug users have figured out they can trade account information for their drugs easier than they can trade your stolen car stereo. If you do not close the account you will be looking over your shoulder, so to speak, forever,” she adds.

It’s important to remember that numbers control your life. The bank will contact social security on your behalf to protect those numbers. It will set up a new checking and/or savings account for you. You need to secure items in your safety deposit box and contact other companies performing automatic deposits or withdrawals from your account(s).

By the way, the $30.00 phony check was for an adult magazine subscription. It could have been worse.