A run of ID thefts
April 6, 2012 7:24 PM Subscribe
Help me fend off the cyber brigands (and persuade my family that they need help)!
posted by bad grammar to Computers & Internet (7 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
I need realistic and if possible specific advice for an outbreak of ID thefts from our cyber-household, as follows, all in the last year. Do these form a pattern?
• A squatter on one household member's auction account, which had gone unused for some time. The squatter ran up a bill. This has been caught and deal with.
• Abuse of the household's big-box retailer account. This has also been caught and dealt with.
• Penetration of a subscription e-mail account maybe due to accidental response to a fake survey associated with relatives' 12 Days of Christmas e-cards. I notified the provider immediately and migrated my mail to another provider.
• Abuse of the credit card number associated with this e-mail account. The survey did not request the number. This case is still being dealt with, as it was disclosed earlier this week. The number has been canceled, which is screwing up billing payments for my website and other subscriptions.
I am also having some major anxiety and shame issues over the ID thefts. It's good practice to request a credit report after incidents like this, but I am terrified that it will reveal something worse. (I'm also furious, and if I had hacker superpowers I would track down the person or people responsible for the ID thefts and kill them.)
As for the shame, is it realistic to feel this way, as if you had a sexually transmitted disease? Most of the shame in this case stems from admission of ignorance. Everyone in the household works with computers daily for regular communications, web-surfing, purchases, etc., but we are not sysadmins, coders or security professionals.
I've decided to adopt better Internet use habits, including blocking ads, not bookmarking, disabling Java, and never "saving" a credit card number in an account. I have changed my passwords repeatedly.
I am considering taking down the website, which nobody ever visits because they prefer Facebook. I have a Facebook page but have turned the privacy up to maximum; I don't do Facebook, period. I'm thinking of closing the Facebook account. I am trying to close the e-mail account that was abused, and have discontinued the subscription.
But I am paranoid that we have been penetrated somewhere, maybe at the level of our notoriously incompetent and despised regional ISP.
I think we need a professional IT security consultant. None of us in the household are sufficiently IT-savvy to do it ourselves. But due to the cost, admission of ignorance, denial etc. I don't know how to persuade the family members that we should hire an IT security professional. I'm having trouble just persuading them that they should upgrade the OS of the main computer to the current one.
I can't disclose more special snowflake details about the specific ISP, the e-mail provider, the OS versions, etc. as I am feeling understandably paranoid. Suffice it to say that we have Macs and for that reason may have been too lax about security.