With more of the world shopping, working, and learning online, we're having to be extra careful with our online habits because scammers and hackers are working extra hard to take our stuff. I say this not because a new scam has surfaced, or any other news, but because in the last two months, I've been hacked twice.  The worst part, it's because my Gmail password was compromised, and I like so many others, was naive as to what that meant for my security.

You see, I happened to use (let me re-phrase, I USED to use) the same password in a number of places because it's easier than trying to think up and remember a new password every time I create one of these accounts. I figured that I was one of the exceptions and this would never bite me.  That is until it did. At some point over the summer, my Gmail was compromised, and even though it told me that the same password and that email address were used for like 31 log-ins, I didn't do anything to change my passwords.  I did on my Gmail account, and then when my Spotify was hacked I changed that password. It wasn't until my Netflix was taken over by someone in Saudia Arabia did I start to get concerned.  Still, I didn't go find every account I had and change the password.  Rookie move.

Last night I learned why you change the password, and definitely DO NOT save your credit card number on every site you occasionally use. Around 5:30 pm last night, I got two text messages from Walmart.com saying my purchases were ready to be picked up. I tried to click on the link and it said it was "expired" so I figured it was just spam, looking for me to click the link and give up some info. Then for some reason, I thought, "I should check my bank account" which thankfully I did because that's when I realized those two purchases were VERY real and someone had just drained my bank account on two shopping sprees at Walmart in Georgia. Unfortunately, I was too late to stop them from getting the goods from Walmart, but immediately canceled my debit card and called Walmart to let them know that I had been hacked. I'm lucky that the guy even put his name down on my account as the person who could pick up the goods, so they have some things to go off to find the guy.  I'm also lucky this time around that the bank will reverse the charges.

It made me realize though, just how trusting we are of a lot of things. Such as using the same password in a couple of different spots, OR the big one for me, saving my credit card info SO many places.  I had my card saved on Walmart.com, Amazon, Kohls, all the way down to Papa Johns.  While you can't really take that info from those sites and go crazy, you most definitely can go crazy ON those sites. Even when my Netflix was hacked, the person charged up another month - I'm guessing in hopes that if I canceled, they'd still have an extra month of service? I don't get that one, but I do know that one of the best things that just happened was me having to cancel my credit card and making it useless on SO many websites. I also know I won't be saving the new number on very many sites at all so this isn't a thing again.

So if anything, please take these two things away from my dumb-dumb moment:

1) Change your passwords and don't use the same one for a bunch of sites. Also, PASSWORD and 123456 are STILL the two most used passwords, don't use either of those!

2) Don't save your credit card number to a ton of websites. Sure it makes it easy when you go to check out and you don't have to have your credit card handy, but that same ease is afforded to criminals who happen to get your log-in as well. Then they can buy Nintendo Switches for their family without ANY problems, as long as you have the money in the account.

Good luck this online holiday season.


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