Wednesday, March 30, 2011
Outsmarted by a Computer Hacker
I like to think I have become somewhat savvy when it comes to computer do's and don'ts. Truth be told, when I hear of people that have been "HAD," because of giving out information they shouldn't, I think to myself, "why would you do that?" We all know there are scammers just waiting to hack our computers or trying to make money because we give them the information they need. I just didn't think that person would turn out to be me.
I totally blew it and here is where they got me. I started getting emails on my hotmail account about three months ago. The email was informing me that hotmail was working on updating their site. It basically said that I had to get back to them if I didn't want to lose my hotmail account. I had to fill out some form If I wanted to renew my account. I kept procrastinating on filling out the information, knowing they gave me a date with which to respond. Every day I got the same reminder that I needed to eventually fill out the form or no more email account. The number of emails I was receiving, got me anxious, because I obviously didn't want to lose my ability to send and receive emails.
Sunday afternoon I went to my local Caribou Coffee with my niece. We each ordered our favorite beverage and found a cozy booth to sink into. While she read her book and I read emails, I got an urgent message that said, my time was up to respond to the updated version of hotmail. I scrolled down and saw they wanted me to give them some information. I ended up giving out my password, my name and country. A voice in my head told me something was wrong, but all the emails I had received in the past, made me ignore the voice.
That evening, The phone rang and my sister picked up. I heard a serious tone in her voice as she spoke to the person on the other end. I wondered what the call was about and felt worried that something was wrong. It turned out to be dear friends of ours that wanted to inform me that my email account had been hacked. They explained they received a urgent letter which went out to everyone on my contact list. It stated something about me needing money so I could fly out to England to be with a sick cousin. My cousin needed a hysterectomy but couldn't afford the surgery. My friends felt the letter was a scam because they knew it wasn't my style to ask for money on-line. They also knew, if it was me, I would end a letter of this magnitude, with heartfelt thanks.
The least of my worries is, I can't log into my email account anymore and will have to set a new password. The worst part is, I'm embarrassed that I gave out personal information to some on-line con. I am also sad that some of my friends worried about me and some, so-called cousin. I am grateful for the phone call that alerted me to this situation. I never thought I would fall victim to these criminals but they got me when my guard was down. I hope this article will be helpful, so you don't have to go through the hassle and humiliation of being scammed.