Rubina Hossain, CFP®
Client Advisor
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January 18, 2023

Winter of 2022…it was a regular working day, where in the evening I was to meet a friend for dinner. As I was leaving for dinner, my cellphone stopped working and said SOS—little did I know it wasn’t because I didn’t have a signal!

Let me take a step back. Before my cell phone stopped working, I did receive a bank notification that my password had changed and someone was being added as a Zelle recipient. I immediately phoned my bank and notified them that there was suspicious activity.

Fast forward to the end of my dinner, my husband called my friend’s cell phone trying to reach me (remember how my cell phone wasn’t working), to let me know that my kids and mom didn’t have working cell phones either (we are all on the same account)! Evidently, someone had called into the cellphone company pretending to be me and switched out the sim card on my phone and also dropped my family’s phone lines by using my personal code.

Now it was all coming together—the bank notifications were related to my phone not working. Then, the hacker proceeded to hack my personal email and opened up a credit card which impacted my credit negatively. Thankfully, I’ve now cleared most of this up but I have never had my identity stolen to this degree.

I’m sharing a list of things I wish I had done prior to this crazy incident in the hope that you can implement some of these ideas and avoid the same:

  1. I wish I had frozen my credit at all 3 credit bureaus: Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion. You can freeze your credit by either calling them or accessing online:
    Equifax https://www.equifax.com/personal/help/place-lift-remove-security-freeze/
    Experian https://www.experian.com/freeze/center.html
    TransUnion https://www.transunion.com/credit-freeze
  2. I went to the police right away, but I wish I had received a police report sooner and sent it to all three credit bureaus ASAP.
  3. I usually don’t click on links in either my text or email that I’m not familiar with, but that’s not to say that I accidentally clicked on something weeks or months ago. You can never be too careful here!
  4. I wish I had called the cell carrier sooner when my phone went into SOS mode.
  5. I wish I’d changed my passwords more often and make them more complex.
  6. I wish I’d kept a better record of my passwords. As a result, I am looking at getting an electronic password organizer like LastPass https://www.lastpass.com/.

On the bright side, I did learn a lot from this super stressful event, but I don’t wish this upon anyone. What was it someone once said? “You can never be too careful!”

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