Recently, my online banking was breached and I became a victim of identity fraud. My social security numbers, security questions, bank account numbers, routing numbers, credit cards, everything. It was really scary. Luckily, I only lost a couple thousand dollars, and my bank reimbursed me for that. But, they were very close to potentially wearing out a lot of money.
This experience has taught me a number of things. First, we need to be responsible and accountable for everything in our life. I wanted to blame these bad actors and fraudsters. I got upset and mad at first, then I felt vulnerable and victimized. Second, I realized, at the end of the day I only have myself to blame. I got too comfortable.
My online security was too relaxed. We all have massive digital footprints now with the amount of things done in the cloud, with our social media profiles, and the way we use browsers and public wifi networks. This was a huge lesson that I can not be vulnerable anymore. I cannot be passive about my security. I have to take charge and become accountable and responsible for my own security.
My Next Steps
After this experience I have committed to being proactive with my digital security. I’ve met with a security consultant and I am setting up different safeguards. I have added Norton antivirus and LifeLock on all my devices in addition to running malware, and wiping everything. This is important because a lot of programs can steal information or find ways on to your computer.
Secondly, I have changed all my passwords on email and set up two step verification. Meaning, I have to get a text message to confirm my login. Thirdly, I have added a security token, a unique password generated every 60 seconds, in addition to my password to give me access to my online banking. Inquire about this with your banks. A lot of them offer this now and it is an added layer of security that helps you stay secure.
In addition to my online security, I have to be more mindful of what I am throwing away and recycling. Meaning, I shred all sensitive documents, tax documents, financial statements, banking statements, and credit card statements. We have too many things out there and we need to be cautious of them. Simply being more intentional about financial, digital, and informational security is so important.
I ended up placing a fraud alert on my credit. I do not want somebody opening up cards and ruining my credit. This is a time when I’m purchasing a new hotel, applying for a commercial loan and getting a place in New York City. The timing couldn’t be worse. But again, I’m blaming myself here for getting too comfortable.
The moral of the story is, just like we are responsible for our education in Sophisticated Agent and our results in our real estate business and in life, we too should be just as responsible for our digital and financial security as well as our identity security. There are people out there that will do whatever they can to steal what you have worked so hard for. Make sure that you’re in the driver’s seat of not letting fraud happen. Do whatever you can to educate yourself, create safeguards, and take measures to protect yourself.
I read an amazing statistic that one out of two consumers in their lifetime will have their information, identity and sensitive information hacked and stolen. That’s a crazy number. So let’s make sure that you’re not one of those. I’m already one of those and I’m making sure that I’m not one of those ever again. It could have been so much worse. Please stay focused, intentional, and take some time for yourself.