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posted at September 6, 2012 7:30 PM EDT
Re: social security
posted at September 6, 2012 9:28 PM EDT
First: November 27, 2011
Last: March 7, 2014
If they did it over the internet, I'd check my security on my computer AND change your password on your SS login after you make sure your computer is safe.
Re: social security
posted at September 9, 2012 12:19 PM EDT
First: September 9, 2012
Last: September 22, 2012
In Response to Re: social security:
marionj73 If they did it over the internet, I'd check my security on my computer AND change your password on your SS login after you make sure your computer is safe.
Posted by GailL1
In order to sign in to the Social Security website to change banking information, the fraudsters would have needed your SS# and your Social Security website password. There are a couple of ways a fraudster could have obtained this information, each of which would have some suggested steps to protect yourself:
1. If your password is an easy to guess word that someone who knows you well could guess, then you need to change it to a much more difficult password. Common passwords that are easy to hack or guess include things such as "12345678"; using your name as a password; the word "password"; "xxxxxxxx"; "football"; "baseball"; using any of your favorite hobbies as a password such as "golfer01", "fisherman", etc.
If this is the case, I would assume that the person who stole your password may be someone that you know, and that knows your habits and hobbies. If this is the case, I would start creating strong passwords, and changing them once every month, rather than keeping the same one for years at a time. There are several websites that will quickly create a strong password for you. One that I recommend to clients is called "LastPass" - just look up LastPass on Google and you will find their website. They have some free services to randomly generate strong passwords. If you want to install some software on your computer to generate and keep track of your passwords, the "Password Dragon" program is free and has received several awards.
You can also generate your own strong passwords - the method is easy. Take any phrase that you can remember, such as "I Love it When the Sun Shines through my skylight!!". Take the first letter from each word, use the punctuation, and turn each "s" into a $, and you get a password of "ILiWt$$tm$!". Taken alone, that password is almost impossible to remember, but since you've got a whole easy phrase to memorize, about the sun shining through your skylight, it becomes a strong password you CAN remember. Next month, you can change your phrase to "I Hate it When the Rain leaks through my Skylight!", and you get "IHiWtRltm$!" - and once again, you've got a very strong, yet easy (enough) to remember password.
2. If someone hacked into your computer or sent you a "Phishing" email which tricked you into entering your password on a fake Social Security website, then your computer system has been compromised. You may also have "Spyware" that's been installed onto your computer that is sending information to the hackers.
In this case, I would normally recommend that someone backup all their important documents from their computer, and then have an expert "wipe" the computer and re-install the operating system (usually Windows or Mac), and reinstall the important computer programs.
If not, then you need to do some work to "clean" the system. I recommend several programs for a good cleaning of a system: "CCleaner" to clean the crud and clean the registry - it's a free program. "HitMan" is an ultra-advanced Spyware cleaner/killer, which usually gives you a few free scans of your whole system. Also, you need to remove any 3rd-party browser "toolbars", "coupon printer" programs, "video downloaders", or other such crud you may have installed on your computer - and keep in mind, you may have installed some of this without even knowing it. Once again, most of these programs and methods are complicated, and if you are not a computer geek, I would recommend getting some professional help, or asking your computer geek niece/nephew to help.
And remember, brand new laptops are cheaper than ever right now - this may be a good time to invest the $400 or so to replace that old clunker. A much more powerful new laptop with new, stronger passwords will probably make you a lot happier.
Good luck, and BE SAFE!!
Andy Prough, CFE
Certified Fraud Examiner