I'm taking a minute out of my busy, busy week to jump on and let you know about something that happened to a good friend of mine: Her PayPal account was HACKED! And since her bank account is linked to her PayPal account, thieves also gained access (temporarily, at least) to her bank account! Yikes! And although she had it quickly straightened out and didn't lose any money out of pocket, it was still unsettling, time-consuming, disruptive, disturbing - and (insert synonym here)!
You're thinking, as was I, that PayPal is CERTAINLY safe....and it IS! In fact, I have a PayPal account, also connected to my bank account, and I intend to keep them BOTH. You should too. BUT what you SHOULD do, is QUIT USING THE SAME PASSWORD ON ALL OF YOUR ACCOUNTS! INCLUDING E-MAIL! Wait....ESPECIALLY E-MAIL!
I'm sorry to have to shout like that, because, as you know, I try to keep this blog friendly and upbeat - garden, butterflies, kids - but I have a feeling that - -
CHANGE YOUR PASSWORDS TODAY!!
- - - whoops - - - there's that yelling thing again - - -
I have a feeling that, if you're like me, you get complacent and might gloss over things, so yelling will get your attention. (Unless, of course, you're in the under-6 set and your last name is Morris and you don't listen to anything I say, much less yelling, then this is not for you.)
So, back to my pal's - that is, my Friend's - story: After she noticed that her bank account was missing over $300, she found that there had been two PayPal draws on the account - neither of which was made by her or her husband. So she called PayPal (no doubt in a panic) and was told that while PayPal is nigh unto impossible to hack, E-MAIL is extremely easy. (If you're a hacker, that is....).
As an aside - she also said that the PayPal rep she spoke with was very soothing and professional and provided every assurance that PayPal is indeed secure, AND that when she hung up the phone, she was no longer in panic mode but had a clear set of steps to follow thanks to PayPal. )(Kudos to PP.....)
Now, back to our story: Most of us have web-based e-mail, right? Like yahoo.com or gmail.com or (fill in web-based email here). Well, it seems that those accounts are easy to hack. And shoot, blogger dot com is probably easy to hack, too, so beware of any posts that don't seem to be from me after this - who knows who I might anger? These types of websites do not have the layers of protection as does, say, a financial institution or PayPal.
Back to our story:
The Bad Guy(s) hacked her email account password and muttered (because bad guys mutter, you know?):
"I bet this chick uses the same password for all her accounts.....and.....(tap, tap, tap)....hah!...there it is......good.....now for her PayPal......this is too easy.....let's go shopping for electronics......(whistle)......bonus, it's attached to her bank account, so....(tap, tap, tap).......cool........and now to shop for a new cell phone....."
and so on and so forth.
Now, what are you going to do after reading this post? Shake your head sagely and say, "she's lyin' again...."? Fix a bread-and-butter-sandwich? Pickle those watermelon rinds you've been saving? Send me a FrontierVille gift?
NO! YOU ARE GOING TO CHANGE YOUR PASSWORDS!
And here is what you are going to remember as you change them:
1. They should all be different. Yes, this is a pain, but you must do this.
2. They should be unique. This means NO birthdays, no last 4 digits of anything, no street addresses, nothing. Make it up. C'mon, you can do it.
3. It should contain letters and numbers and characters - at least a combination of the two. We're going for protection, here, you know.
4. Write them down.* Do it!
(*Do you want me to make a password notebook for you as an incentive to change them? Seriously. Because I want to Do My Part to keep the web safe and fun. For the first ten folks who comment below, I will make you a sweet little password notebook and get it to you by first class mail or otherwise as a special free gift for reading this blog. No, I don't have a picture of what it looks like, so it will be a surprise. To both of us.)
Don't put it off!
GO DO IT NOW!