I was looking forward to an evening at home, taking care of some chores and perhaps doing some blogging, and instead I spent most of it changing credit card information and passwords on our myriad online accounts. (OK, I might have also done some blogging.) Yep…one of our credit cards was compromised this morning, and someone ran up almost $800 in bogus charges.
Fortunately, I had set up an email alert for charges exceeding a certain amount, and so I was notified immediately when the first misuse hit the account. I couldn’t access the credit card website from the office (not because it was blocked; I didn’t have the login info with me, an oversight that has now been corrected), so I couldn’t confirm the full amount of the damage until I got home.
The credit card company assured me that we wouldn’t be liable for the charges, and immediately canceled the card and will send us a new one, although it will be about a week before it arrives. In the meantime, not knowing how the miscreant got hold of our card info, an abundance of caution dictates that we not only change out the credit card information on all of our online accounts, but also change passwords on those accounts.
It’s probably just as well. Over the years, I’ve developed a bad habit of using the same password – or very similar variations – for almost all my accounts. In hindsight, “Hello1” is probably not the best choice for a password to all of our financial accounts. This episode is a good excuse to remedy that, and I’m generating unique strong passwords for the updated accounts.
Another thing I’m doing is providing answers to security questions that are lies (which came surprisingly easy, much to my dismay; I’m obviously going to have to start paying better attention in Sunday School). So, my first pet’s name is Hooligan X1 Banana*, and the hospital where I was born is Chocolate DVD Pigsty**. If you’re providing the actual real answers to security questions, you’re providing one more piece of the puzzle to potential identity thieves.
None of these techniques work very well if you can’t remember what you’ve set up, and if you’ve created properly strong passwords and random security question answers, you won’t be able to remember them. Invest in a good password management app (and set a super-strong password on it…one that you can remember!) and then go wild with the new passwords.
By the way, the bogus charges were incurred at Shutterstock.com, a website for purchasing stock photos and videos. I mean, who steals a credit card and uses it to buy pictures of daffodils in snowfields, or dinner plates in primary colors, or even photos of kittens with disbelieving expressions? Yes, I was apparently burgled by a designer. How ironic is that?