Ten days before Christmas a text message arrived on my phone from a company I ordered from online back in September. Their parent company had changed servers and although they assured me that full security measures were taken, there may have been a breach and they requested that we keep an eye on our bank accounts and advise if there was any suspicious activity.
Around about lunchtime on the same day, I received a further text message, supposedly from my credit card company, advising of a fraud alert. As I have a tendency not to knee jerk react to things like this, I decided to wait until I got home and call my credit card company direct. When I got home, I found a voicemail on my home phone from the credit card company and called them back immediately. Sure enough some bozo had attempted to use my card to purchase over £400 worth of computer equipment and something tripped their fraud checks (thank goodness). The cards were cancelled immediately (nice, ten days before Christmas) and I spent the rest of the afternoon making sure the card details were removed from any sites that I use regularly. As far as I was concerned, it was a bit of a nuisance and luckily the new cards arrived fairly quickly. I thought that was the end of it.
I was wrong.
Two days ago, I got a text message from Paypal, advising that I’d made a payment for $146 to a cheap flights company online. Needless to say, I got straight online, contacted Paypal, advised of the fraud and the payment was cancelled but this obviously gave me a nasty shock – how had this happened? It was only my credit card details that had been stolen, so how did they get into my Paypal account?
When the realisation hit me, I had a very unpleasant sensation in the pit of my stomach (you know the sensation I’m talking about). It wasn’t just my credit card details that had been stolen – it was the customer details that had also been stolen. It occurred to me that I had been guilty of re-using passwords. In this day and age, most online sites give you the option of creating online accounts and keeping tracking of multiple passwords can be problematic. Like most people, I’ve been guilty of using the same password more than once. And I have no excuse – I have a program to keep a record of my them, which even has the option of generating random passwords but over the years I’ve become complacent and not used this feature. Suffice to say, for the remainder of that particular day, that feature was used heavily!
I hope this blog may serve as a reminder to those of you out there who may be guilty of doing the same thing – no matter how much care you take, it only takes one small thing to potentially create chaos. In this case, it wasn’t my fault and I’m extremely grateful to the company that advised of the potential security breach which meant that I was immediately on guard for suspicious activity. I’ve been really lucky – this could have created a serious problem. Hopefully my biggest problem now is remembering all the bloody passwords that have been newly generated!