An Associated Press poll last October found that 30 percent of teens and young adults had their email, Facebook, or other online accounts hacked into or spied on, but they believe the act is harmless. Nearly three-quarters (72 percent) of spying victims and 65 percent of those who had been hacked said that they knew who the culprit was.
But hacking is no mere prank, At the least, it is a nuisance, and at worst it can lead to money and identity theft. When a hacker breaks into your email, he or she is committing several crimes, including wire fraud (deceptive use of a computer, radio, television or telephone to get money or property) and computer fraud.
What is the first thing you should do if your email has been hacked? The Financial Industry Regulatory Association (FINRA) has issued an investor alert urging individuals to notify their brokerage firm or other financial institutions to ward off identify theft or minimize the damage.
In a statement, FINRA said that it had received “an increasing number of reports involving investor funds stolen by fraudsters who first gain access to the investor’s email account and then email instructions to the firm to transfer money out of the brokerage account.”
How do you know if you’ve been hacked. Among the tell-tale signs FINRA warns about, include reports of span from people in your Contacts” folder or a flurry of “bounced” email messages from people you don’t know. You might also find that your password or other account settings have been changed, or that you have been blocked from accessing your own account (Visit the Federal Trade Commission’s Identity Theft and Data Security website for more information).
In addition to contacting your brokerage firm and other financial institutions, including credit card companies, FINRA recommends notifying credit bureaus to place a fraud alert on your file as well as being sure to change your password to your email account, and your username, password and PIN for your financial accounts,
You should also check your brokerage account for unauthorized transactions, particularly withdrawals or wire transfers to an account that is not yours. ‘It will take time to determine that happened,” FINRA cautions, “and the firm will likely need your help in identifying anyone who might have access to your account.”
Fear of identity theft makes investors wary of using their smart phone to pay for transactions. More than half of affluent investors we surveyed i said they feel uncomfortable or very uncomfortable using the mobile technology as a means of payment. Our research also found that women (57 percent) were much more concerned about cyber security issues than men (46 percent).