Computer hackers, viruses and phishing scams attack other people, right? It doesn’t affect the tech savvy, right? Well, I discovered the hard way that anyone is vulnerable to bad people online. It started about a week ago when someone tried to move a large amount of money out of my bank account. Fortunately, our tenant had bounced a rent check so there was actually no money in the account to be transferred out.
A few days later, the bank was able to tell me that the transfer request was made by Paypal, which was strange because I hadn’t made a major transaction involving Paypal. So, I called Paypal to see what was up. To make a long story short, some people in England and Indonesia had somehow broken into my Paypal account, changed the e-mail information and the password, and taken the money out, which prompted Paypal to demand additional funds from my bank account.
The story has a relatively happy ending (at least for me). After an hour on the phone with a terrific customer service person from Paypal (I wish I had taken down her name so I could have pass along my compliments to her boss), everything was sorted out and my Paypal account will be restored.
Aside from making me feel extremely vulnerable and giving my Luddite-like wife yet another reason to scorn the Internet, this incident has really caused me to reconsider how much information I provide online, where it’s stored, who has it and what I can do to be smarter. Given I’ve been actively online for 10 years, it may be late in the game for me to “clean the slate” entirely, but I’m definitely going to be more cautious about who gets my information in the future.
Note: Speaking of viruses, there’s an interesting post from the person who wrote the first computer virus 25 years ago, while Web Worker Daily has a post looking at people should be careful about giving personal information to Web 2.0 services. Mathew Ingram writes about Microsoft looking to get into the micro-payments business so it could compete against Paypal and Google Checkout.