Thursday, July 26, 2012

Hacked is no FUN!

Many of us use a yahoo account for e-mail for various reasons. I got my yahoo account when I first started writing back on 2003 and I've been very fortunate that I've never been hacked - until just recently. Authors are prime candidates because we're "public" figures on the Internet. We post on our blogs and tell bits and pieces of our personal lives so our readership will know us better. It's one form of promotion that has a warm and inviting feel to it, but it also opens us up to potential threats like scammers and spammers.

That said, I thought I'd post what to look for in an e-mail that could be a potential problem. Anytime, you're asked by yahoo to relog in, you should change your password. I do it regularly. Why I didn't do it this time? It was late at night and I was tired, not thinking straight and I was vulnerable. Somehow the scammers knew I was waiting on exactly two messages that never came through. The note came from Yahoo and looked legit. It said I had two messages that were pending because they were making changes to their database. If I hadn't been so tired, I would have seen the two typos. There's one sign right there. No professional would allow bad grammar or typos in an important message. Well, it does happen, but rarely.

They played on my gullibility at a time when my defenses were down. I wanted those messages - desperately. They were invites to another social group. How did they know I was missing two messages? Now there's a mystery, but it also provides another clue about what to look for. Scammers usually know something personal about you and they often get it from facebook. Note to self - try not to post very personal comments to facebook. I really don't remember saying anything on facebook about the messages and I haven't looked yet, but's possible I guess. My mother's 80-year-old friend fell for a telephone scam not too long ago - to the tune of $8000.00 dollars. They suspect the personal information obtained to make the scam work came from postings on facebook by various family members. The elderly are real susceptible to scams because they don't use the computer as much and aren't privy to the stories the younger generation hears.

So back to my tale; I was lucky. I caught it early. They stole my account at 4:50 AM and by 9:00 AM I was aware. I used my secret questions to regain my account.

Here's what to do after you get your account back. Go into your account settings immediately and change your password but also look at your other e-mail attached to the account. Mine had been changed to the hacker's e-mail.

After you do this, go to the help section on Yahoo. They have a process you can follow to regain lost contacts (I've already gotten my contacts back) and older e-mails you might have saved (I haven't gotten those back yet but I'm hopeful). They also have a place to report abuse. I turned in the hacker's e-mail though I doubt it will do much good.

I hope no one has to suffer this indignity. For one, it makes you feel stupid, gullible. But I also felt violated, especially after getting my account back only to find it stripped of all messages and contact information.


Big Mike said...

Excellent advice GG. I'll archive this one.

Michael Davis (
Author of the Year (2008 and 2009)
Award of Excellence (2011)

Julie Eberhart Painter said...

Good advice. Hope you are "fully loaded" soon.

January Bain said...

Thanks for the great advice! Hope all is better fo you now. I'll also archive this one like Mike.

Allison Knight said...

My sister in law got caught by a telephone scammer to the tune of $3000 which she couldn't afford. Again doesn't use a computer. But I also got hacked, my Allison Knight google account. I had never changed the original e-mail to other accounts (this one was three servers ago, and no record exsist anymore) but terrific advice. and keeping changing your passwords, write 'em down and make them difficult to understand, numbers, letters, signs.

Ciara Gold said...

Yep, this was a learning experience for me. As anal as I am, I'm only human and this can happen to anyone. Thanks all for chiming in.

Liz Fountain said...

Great advice and tips, stuff I'd rather not think about but should take action on... off to change my Yahoo password now!


Rita Bay said...

SO sorry, Ciara. After I saw your email on our loop, I spent the rest of the day saving and printing my saved emails. Thanks for the timely info. Rita