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What to do if you get hacked

Having your accounts hacked can be frightening, especially if fraudsters get hold of your bank details or private data. Here’s what you need to do if you think you have been hacked.

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In an increasingly digital world, we’re all at more risk than ever of being hacked. Everyone’s online every day, sharing personal information here, there and everywhere. From passwords and names, to locations and bank card details, we are giving away our personal information often.

Being hacked isn’t just inconvenient, but it also puts you at risk of fraud. It’s so important to make sure we’re safe online, and to take the right steps if we do get hacked. 

These tips will help you navigate your way out of a tricky situation if the worst happens.

Check if you’ve been hacked

There are quite a few warning signs that could alert you to the fact that you’ve been hacked. For example, you might notice that: 

  • Your contacts have been spammed with messages that appear to be from you

  • Your password suddenly stops working

  • You can’t update your system

  • Your computer is running slowly all of a sudden

  • Your hard drive starts making loud noises

  • Your antivirus has suddenly been disabled

  • You’re getting a lot of pop ups and ads

  • You can’t access websites

  • There are unrecognised purchases on your accounts

  • You’ve got new programmes on your computer.

If you’ve been hacked, you’ll need to spring into action to minimise the risk to your sensitive information.

Here are some top tips on what to do if you get hacked.

Get your accounts back

If you’ve been hacked, each email or social media account has a process you can follow to regain control. Here are some links to these processes for popular accounts:

You may get an email telling you your account was hacked, and explaining how to reset your security. Make sure it’s legitimate before following any links. That email could be from hackers, so it’s always best to be suspicious.

Tell friends and family

Tell your friends and family if you think you’ve been hacked. They should delete suspicious emails or social media messages that appear to be from you.

They should never click on any of the links contained within those messages. Hackers send messages from accounts they get control of. They do this to trick others into opening links which extract sensitive information, like login details.

Let your friends and family know that you’ve been hacked. Send them an email or message, or update your status on Facebook or Twitter to let lots of people know at once.

Check your bank accounts

If hackers have stolen your bank account details, they could make fraudulent purchases in your name.

Most banks will contact you if there’s unusual activity on your account, but keep an eye on your statements. That way, you can quickly spot any transactions not made by you. Sometimes, hackers will make a few small purchases first to test out the details, before buying something more expensive. 

Your bank will never email or call you asking for your bank details. If you’re asked for this information, it could be hackers posing as your bank.

If you find that money has been taken from your account, contact your bank immediately. They’ll put a stop on any other transactions and cancel your card.

Here’s what to do if you think you’ve been scammed

You can also read more about keeping your bank details safe online here.

Update your security software and scan for viruses

Some viruses infect your computer and detect the passwords you type into online accounts. They can eventually take over your computer, leaving unable to log in. Then the hackers take control.

It’s good practice to scan your computer using antivirus software to remove malicious software. You should update your antivirus software before you do this – just go to the settings to do this. Then you can click for a thorough scan of your system.

If you don’t already have antivirus software, you can download it free. You could try the AVG website, for example.

Change your passwords

Hackers often try to steal your email address and password. People often use the same combination for many accounts, and it means they can get into whatever they want.

After you’ve done your virus scanning, you should change your passwords to something new. It’s important not to change your passwords until your system is secure, otherwise the new passwords could just be captured as well.

Aim for passwords that are 10-20 characters long, and include both upper-case and lower-case letters, as well as numbers and symbols. This reduces your chances of being hacked.

Your password should be memorable but unique. You should also avoid using anything that can be easily linked to you. For example, birthdays, addresses, or family names. These are too easy to guess, as are passwords like ‘1234’. 

You also shouldn’t use passwords that you’ve used in the past and should avoid using the same password for more than one account. By setting new passwords for every online account you use, you’ll be more likely to stay safe.

It can be hard to remember lots of different passwords, but you could think about using password manager software to help.

It’s also a good idea to use Multi-Factor Authentication for all your logins. This is where you use a second mechanism – such as a text message to your phone – to authenticate your identity.

Secure your WiFi

It’s important to secure your home broadband network with a password. This can prevent hackers from stealing your sensitive information.

It can also be a good idea to avoid using public WiFi to check your online banking. Public WiFi can be more vulnerable to hacking and your information could be stolen more easily.

Here’s how to keep your internet secure.

Check your accounts and apps

It’s a good idea to check your accounts and make sure your shipping information hasn’t been changed to a different address. Otherwise you could find that your orders are sent elsewhere.

Equally, you should check to see that the hackers haven’t posted anything on your social accounts on your behalf, such as spam, adverts or malware.

It’s also worth checking your email inbox and spam folders to see if they’ve set up any new accounts using your email address. If they have, then you can log in by using the ‘reset password feature’, then you can delete the account. 

Another good thing to check is whether any apps have been installed that you haven’t installed yourself. If they have, delete them immediately.

Spending with a credit card offers extra protection from scammers and fraudsters with Section 75 cover. Compare credit cards to find one that suits how you spend.