You know you're in trouble when...


So, what does it feel like to have your bank account information stolen, and money seemingly ripped from your account against your will?  I had no idea what that feels like until this morning.  Today I woke up like any other day, checked my email, etc. before heading off to work... Except I got a horrible surprise when I took a look at my Checking account balance.

Apparently, overnight, a small video game company decided to charge me via my PayPal account almost $500 ($19.99 X 24 = $479.76) in fraudulent charges. It's like getting slapped across the face when you see something like this... but honestly I had no idea what happened until I spoke with PayPal and my bank.

Both were very helpful and understanding that something bad had happened, and tried to alleviate my worry in stating that all will be well, the charges will be reversed, we just have to walk you through some stuff to make sure it won't continue to happen.

Honestly, I've been banking online for well over 7 years now, and I've never once seen something like this happen.  I've had a few scares, but they had only been charges that I didn't recognize the name for on my statement, and turned out to be legitimate in the end.  These charges obviously were not.  Thankfully I have an understanding father who jumped at my request to borrow some money until the chargeback process is complete (which can take 3-10 days according to my bank and PayPal).

Here's my advise, don't use a password that could even possibly be guessed with a brute force attack.  PayPal offers a Security Key (keyfob with rolling encryption) that will be required any time you use the service for payment.  I got one on its way to me, so this won't happen again.

Don't use any words in the dictionary, and make your password for your bank and online store purchase accounts (like ebay, NewEgg or Amazon) different across each of your accounts - don't use the same password twice.  I'm honestly looking into downloading or purchasing some software to help generate completely random passwords for everything and an easy way to use them without causing too much of a headache.  I'll post further with my choice of password manager software, and let you know how it works.  In the meantime, I'm going to go get some more Tums to cool down the ulcer this whole experience just gave me.

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