You know how people say new year, new me? Well, for me it couldn’t be further from the truth. I previously shared how my identity was stolen and how mind boggling that is. I didn’t know how it happened and even though I reported it to the Austin police, they couldn’t do anything because it was online and it’s hard to track who did it. So once your data is out there, you have no choice but to start over with everything. So in this post I want to share how I found the reason why this happened and what steps to take to protect your identity further. New year, new you boo!
I was so deeply hacked that even my phone number was compromised. I got a call on my phone from Apple. Mind you, the past few weeks I’ve been getting non stop calls from junk robocalls and I didn’t know how to stop it so I would block the number. Once I answered the phone, it was “Apple support” saying that someone tried to log into my Apple account from two locations.
I learned that Apple will NEVER call you so food for thought. They basically spoofed my phone to make me think it was really Apple.
Of course, I believed them because these past few weeks my identity was breached with credit card fraud and I felt like this was just another thing. I was at work and they gave me some info to type into a website so that they could remote in. I was freaked out, but trusted them and went along with it. After I hung up, I told my IT guy and he informed me that my laptop was compromised. My stomach dropped and I felt tears coming out of my eyes. Now these hackers are affecting me at work!
Thankfully they were able to get me a different laptop and stop the attempt they made to run a virus on my computer. I also told the IT guy that this has been happening to me the past few months. He was able to identify the issue: They hacked into my router at home. It all makes sense. He said I need to get a new phone number and a new email address, everything.
With the data breaches that are going on, this is really a scary time for not just me, but for everyone. I made the mistake of using my phone number as my wifi password and that’s most likely how they got into ALL my data.
Get a new router
So as soon as I got home, I unplugged the router and took it to Spectrum and got a new one. I used a difficult password and same for my wifi login so this shouldn’t happen again. Always use letters and numbers. Because I used all numbers, it was so easy for them to crack it.
To prevent my router from being hacked I used a strong password other than admin AND I am using a software you can get for free on the App Store called, “Who’s On My Wifi”. You basically add all your devices and mark them as “known” and your network is automatically scanned periodically and if a device is “unknown” then you get to kick it off your network. How cool is that?
Side note: Make sure your password for your router to look at the settings is not ‘admin’ because that’s usually what the password is when you set it up. Change that password into letters and numbers. Otherwise you run the risk of them accessing it and changing your password.
Get a new phone number
I also had to get a new phone number. It really sucks to have to do that because I had this number since I was in college. But I finally got a 512 area code number so I finally feel like an Austinite. Oh and those junk calls are gone, which makes me so happy! I also registered my new number on the National Do Not Call list and even though my old number was registered, they were still calling it like no tomorrow. Now I can really say, “New phone, who ‘dis?”
Change your passwords every 3 months
This may seem like a pain, but unless you want a hacker to find out one of your passwords, they’ll use a software that will run across the web to let them know what other sites you use that same password for. I like using Chrome because when you generate a password you can right click and it will suggest a strong password. Safari has been doing that too and it’s awesome. I also use Last Pass Chrome extension so that it saves my passwords and I don’t have to look them up. Game changer.
Check your internet connection
When a hacker is on your network, your wifi will be slower than normal. I noticed that when I would type in my blog for example, the letters took forever to pop up. They must’ve used a key logger to track my keys and that’s probably how they got my information. Crazy right?
Get a new email address
I’ve had the same email address since the beginning of gmail. I’m talking early 2000’s! So it was really hard to give up my email, but once I made the change, it wasn’t that bad. I was able to forward my mail over to my new address so that I can keep track of what sites I need to update my address on and unsubscribe from the ones I don’t want their mail. Once I finish switching everything over, I will shut down that account. Technically, I should’ve shut it down right away, but I still had emails I was expecting from people that I needed to keep it for now.
Y’all, I literally feel like someone broke into my home with everything that happened. The invasion of privacy is all too real and an unsettling feeling sits in the pit of your stomach. I always thought that would never happen to me, but I was naive because now these hackers are getting smarter and trying all kinds of ways to get your data. It’s no joke.
I hope these tips were helpful! After everything that’s happened, I’d hate for something like this to happen to anyone else so be aware and protect your shit. Now that I took these drastic measures, I can sit back and relax a little. I almost felt like I went under a witness protection program lol. Sigh.
If anyone has any tips or stories they’d like to share, do so in the comments below!