9 Ways to Protect Accounts, Privacy After Your Computer Gets Hijacked | SRES®

9 Ways to Protect Accounts, Privacy After Your Computer Gets Hijacked

SRES® Staff
worried senior couple with laptop computer

Realizing that you gave remote access to your computer to a scammer can be upsetting and embarrassing.

But don't let those feelings prevent you from moving quickly to protect yourself against financial losses or identity theft.

Here are nine things to do immediately:

1. Disconnect your computer from the Internet. It can prevent thieves from accessing your personal information and online accounts — banking sites, shopping sites, credit card information, etc. Learn more about tech support scams.

2. Call your credit card companies, banks, and investment firms to tell them what happened so they can protect your money. Monitor all your accounts for unauthorized charges or withdrawals and call your bank or credit card company immediately if you notice something suspicious.

3. Freeze or put a fraud alert on your credit with the three credit bureaus. Banks and credit companies won't open new accounts without a credit check, so a security freeze can stop identify thieves from opening new accounts in your name.

Contact the credit bureaus:

4. Use your antivirus program to run a computer scan to find and remove any malware someone may have installed.

5. Change your passwords on every online account, including emails, financial institutions, and social media sites. Be sure your passwords are strong, and don't use the same password for all your sites. Learn more about creating tough-to-guess passwords here and here.

Using a strong password for your internet router is also essential. Don't rely on the default login credentials.

7. Set up two-factor authentication to add another layer of security to your accounts. Two-factor authentication requires you to provide a second set of credentials — an emailed or texted one-time code, for example — before logging into a site.

8. Report that you've been a scam victim to the Federal Trade Commission. It can use the information to keep track of scam trends and possibly build cases against perpetrators.

9. Review your credit report to be sure no one uses your accounts or identity. Get a free annual credit report.

Learn more about identity theft and signs that you may be a victim.