I’m probably not the only one who has experienced my bank accounts being hacked during COVID-19 and I’m sure I won’t be the last. If this has happened to you, I’m so sorry. I know firsthand the hours and hours that go into fixing hacked bank accounts. If you end up on the radar of one of these criminals, I only hope that perhaps, the advice below may keep your bank accounts from being compromised, or at least allow you to fix the problem in less time than it took me. Here’s what you need to know:

How to Prevent Your Bank Account from Being Hacked

  • Use Malwarebytes to scan your computer for viruses. Norton won’t do any better than the free version of Malwarebytes, and it’s not worth buying (at least it wasn’t worth it for me as a Mac user).
  • Get whatever the highest security is that’s available with your bank. With Chase, since I have a business account, I was finally able to get a key fob that generates a “token” that must be entered in order for anyone to log in to my account. I hope and pray this will end my hacking issues forever. If you don’t have a business banking account, don’t use online banking with Chase. Wells Fargo has more security which requires a passcode on EVERY login.
  • We all know not to click on suspicious links and not to access our financial info when we’re on a public network – right? But those scammers get savvier and savvier, and all of us make mistakes sometimes. If it happens to you, forgive yourself and learn what not to do next time!

What To Do Once Your Bank Account Has Been Hacked

  • Hackers will go into your bank accounts and change your contact information so they get notifications instead of you. At JPMorgan Chase, apparently this is a fairly easy thing to do. Once you call the bank and get back into your accounts, make sure to scrub every nook and cranny of your online banking for any wayward phone numbers and email addresses.
  • Change the answers to any security questions associated with your account. The hackers will look at your answers and become even more able to pretend to be you.
  • Once hackers have your social security number and bank account number, they can get into your Chase bank accounts by using your email address.
  • If the hackers manage to log into your email, they will probably attach a different email address to that email account so they can get notifications to their fake email address. Scrub every nook and cranny of your email account for false addresses that might have been associated with your email. Otherwise it doesn’t matter how many times you change your password—they will get right back in to both your email and your bank accounts.
  • Scan your computer for viruses. But if you don’t have a virus, that doesn’t mean you’re safe. No tech support person will be able to find a “key logger,” which can go undetected and allow hackers to find their way into your accounts. I personally have a Mac and had to wipe the computer clean. Twice.
  • Make sure you have a back-up of all your files. I use a Passport for my Mac. Note that if you have Quicken, you might need to save that file separately. And if you have a Mac and need to wipe your computer clean, do NOT back your computer up from the full file saved to your Passport. It could contain the malicious software. Yes you will have to re-download all the software that does not come with the Mac. Mac users, the good news is that the passwords in your keychain will still be available since those are backed up to iCloud.

What Doesn’t Work

  • The police won’t help.
  • LifeLockTM doesn’t help.
  • Getting new accounts with the same bank doesn’t help. Once hackers get into your online banking, they will figure out your new account information.
  • I don’t know what happens first, but when hackers get in your bank account, that’s not all they get into. They probably will make it into some number of the following: PayPal, Facebook, your email account, and who knows what else. I even had someone attempt a Western Union transfer out of my account.
  • Nothing about having your bank accounts hacked is easy. Prepare to spend many hours dealing with this if it happens. But hopefully not as many hours as I did, since now you know what I did not know before.

If you have more tips on this topic, please share! And may you stay free of viruses of all kinds this fall and winter.

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