What were my words last week?  We never think it’s going to happen to us until it happens to us… Guess what? It happened to me!

Last week I found out I’d been stolen. Someone stole ‘digital me’ online!  Can you believe it? My digital self got taken. (With not so much as a sniff of Liam Neeson in sight to save me!) How ironic when all this month we’ve been relaying the key messages to stay safe online with all of you…

Unlike the movie no one physically burst in through the window and kidnapped digital me from under my bed, it happened without me even being there but when I received the letter from HMRC I still felt just as violated. I used to own an apartment abroad (trust me it sounds way better than than the reality!) Anyway, turns out the NRA – who are the Bulgarian version of the UK’s HMRC – got hacked. Resulting in many of my personal and financial details being leaked online. I’m lucky that the HMRC were assisting with the investigation and wrote to inform me – otherwise I wouldn’t have known and couldn’t have put in steps to prevent fraud. (Note: the HMRC wrote to me. There was no email asking me for information or to call anyone or click on any links.)

What was I going to do?

First – I voiced my opinion about my current situation in my head – which wasn’t really very helpful but essential all the same!

Then I called my bank and arranged to switch over my account. This would give me a new account number. (My gut said this was a must do!) With my account number changed – no one would be setting up direct debits on my behalf! (All they need is your name, account number and sort code.) The bank assured me if anyone did this they could stop it and I’d get refunded – but I preferred to change my account number and stop it before it started. 

Second – the HMRC had sent advice on how to spot fraud – but I prefer the prevention is better than cure approach. Fortunately I have a good friend that works in information security, so the next thing I did was to ask for advice I trusted. After much inquisition on if the letter was genuine – he advised I do a credit check to see if anyone had tried to take anything out in my name. The thought that someone could be parading around the internet as me was quite disturbing! I’d never have thought to check that. 

I used Experian to complete the check – it took only a few minutes from my phone and then I had peace of mind – so far the only debt I had incurred was all my own! Hurrah – a little harmony and control of the situation had been restored already!

I don’t really know what I could have done to prevent the NRA getting hacked?  But I feel assured I’ve done all I can do to protect digital me. 

If your digital self is ever in jeopardy, here are my top tips:

  • If your bank account details are exposed arrange a switch over with your bank to change your bank account number. 
  • Complete a credit check. This will show you if anyone has set anything up in your name which you may not be aware of.
  • Check the Information Commissioners Office (ICO) website
  • Log it with Action Fraud

Be Aware – Take Care!

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