Being Careful Online The Best Defense Against Hackers
TULSA, Oklahoma - A woman's Amazon account is hacked, enabling a criminal to buy nearly $1,700 worth of merchandise all using her Amazon credit balance.
She kept changing her password but the con artist kept getting in.
Jonette Ferrier enjoyed the convenience of shopping on Amazon; that was until a hacker cracked into her account and used her gift card balance as their own piggy bank.
"It's all out theft. It's my money," she said.
The criminal changed the phone number on her account, ordered more than $1,500 in merchandise and had it sent to an out of state address.
Ferrier changed her password but the hacker kept getting in and placed orders as quickly as she canceled them.
"He was placing orders to be sent to himself while I was on the phone with Amazon and a supervisor and they are watching it take place," she said.
Amazon would not comment on how the hacker got into Ferrier’s account.
Cyber-crimes investigator, Scott Schober, said scammers most likely infected her computer with a Malware virus that allowed them to monitor her every keystroke.
"So, if a gift card is entered, a pin number, log-in credentials, they've got the entire record. The same thing happens, too, if they try to change a password," Schober said.
A good way to protect yourself is by using Amazon’s two-step verification feature – when you log in, a separate code is sent to your phone and must be entered to access the account.
Ferrier said, "I can't tell you how irritating, how threatened, how maddening it wasn't stopping."
When she started using the two-step verification, the hacking stopped.
But TU cyber-security expert, Dr. Mauricio Papa, said hackers are now sophisticated; phishing e-mails are more clever and legit looking, it’s easier than ever before to unwittingly download identity-stealing Malware.
"Don't open those emails,” Papa said. “They're getting better and they may look like they're actually coming from Amazon or whatever organization you have an account with, and they're asking you to click on a link, that's when the attack sort of happens."
You might think you’re immune because your computer has Anti-Virus software, but Papa said programs like Norton and McAfee can protect you only 70 to 80 percent of the time. That’s because the bad guys are hard at work, constantly finding ways around them.
In October, News On 6 crime reporter, Lori Fullbright warned about similar scams, saying, “Tulsa police say they've had five eBay hacking cases recently, and several PayPal hackings as well."
One hacking victim said she was shocked when her eBay account said she bought a couple of vacuum robots and a Fitbit charger for almost $2,000.
She was equally surprised to see someone changed her shipping address to another city.
"It's just amazing to me that people do that,” she said. “People just need to get a job and work hard for their stuff instead of stealing it from other people."
And this holiday season, as Papa said, “If something looks suspicious, then don’t do it. Don’t click on that link.”
Being very careful online is your best defense against hackers.