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What to do if your bank account is hacked?

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One of the most vulnerable moments in life is feeling like your bank account has been hacked. Then realizing that it is actually compromised is definitely a heartbreaking moment. Unfortunately, hacking is a harsh reality of our digital age. So know that you are not alone.

While it may cause you to experience a wave of negative emotions, you can take action immediately upon discovery to regain control of your account or prevent it from spiraling further out of control.

Below are seven telltale signs that your bank account has been hacked, six next steps to take if it happens to you, and 10 ways to prevent it from happening again or never happening in the first place.


Bank hack 1

A woman is stressed by a hacker attack. (Kurt “CyberGuy” Knutsson)

Signs that your bank account has probably been hacked

While it’s important to make sure your financial institution or someone you share your account with hasn’t made a mistake, below are some of the most common signs that your bank account has been hacked.

1. Disabled card

You swipe or tap your debit card to make a purchase when the store cashier informs you that your card has been declined. After several more attempts with the same card, you realize that something is actually wrong. If your bank account was hacked, hackers may have blocked your card and requested a new one.

2. Account suspension

You try to log into your bank’s app on your phone, or you go home and try to log into your account, only to find that your password has changed without your knowledge. Hackers who gain access to your bank accounts tend to change passwords first, so they can wreak havoc on your account without your intervention.

3. Funds dry up

Since you’re expecting a higher-than-normal bill from the gas company, you log into your bank account and are greeted with a $0 balance. You refresh your statement page several times and think it’s a technical error. Still, the account balance remains at $0 or, in the worst case scenario, negative (overdrawn) – meaning your bank account has likely been hacked.

4. Hijacked communications

Your monthly statement usually arrives like clockwork, but it has stopped arriving at all. At first you think it’s a postal error, but all other bills and documents arrive on time. If your bank statements and other documents are no longer received, it is likely that hackers have changed your account’s contact information.


5. Unauthorized Account Activity

Your account balance was fairly balanced, so you haven’t checked your transactions, but you check to see if a particular payment was received and then you notice some strange withdrawals and transfers. Towards the end of the month there were smaller increments here and there from $20 to larger amounts. If you notice unusual transactions, you have probably been hacked.

6. Strange activity notification from bank

You wake up to multiple notifications from your bank about strange activity on your account. Whether it’s multiple failed attempts to log into your bank account or suspicious transactions, it becomes clear to you that you didn’t make those attempts or purchases. If so, your bank account could have been hacked.

7. Sudden account closure or suspension

When you find that you can’t log into your bank account, you usually call your bank and find out that your account has been closed without your knowledge or consent. This can also be a sign that your bank account has been hacked.

Bank hack 2

Woman is stressed by bank fraud. (Kurt “CyberGuy” Knutsson)

MORE: How to protect your credit and debit cards from hacker attacks

Actions you should take if your bank account has been hacked

While panic may seem like the most obvious reaction to a hacker attack on your bank account, the exact opposite reaction, coupled with some of the following action steps, will put you on a better path. Even if the situation feels overwhelming, it is important to take timely action as some financial institutions have timelines for recovering funds.

1. Call your bank directly. Use the number on the back of your bank card or on your bank statements to speak directly to a representative about your concern. Depending on the level of concern, you may be directed to the fraud department.

2. If the hacker only got access to your bank card, most banks and credit card companies will allow you to do so deactivate or even freeze a card until you can secure your account. This way, no further transactions will be made using your missing or stolen card number. Some banks allow you to block or deactivate your online account.

3. If you suspect that hackers are trying to break into your account through numerous online login attempts, log in from a safe, virus-free and malicious device Change your password immediately. Additionally, ensure that the email account associated with the potentially compromised bank account has not been hacked. Additionally, consider using a Password manager Generate and store complex passwords.

4. Contact the three major credit reporting agencies Freeze your credit. This prevents anyone, including hackers, from damaging your credit score. Make sure you also report any errors in your credit reports to the credit bureaus.

5. Submit a report with local authorities and the Federal Trade Commission.

6. To have the best chance of recovering stolen or lost funds, you should do this You can dispute this within 60 days, usually from the time the unauthorized charge or withdrawal appears on your account statement. Some banks require a physical letter, while others have an online dispute resolution process.

Bank hack 3

Illustration of security on a smartphone. (Kurt “CyberGuy” Knutsson)


How to prevent your bank account from being hacked

Below are 10 ways to prevent your bank account from being hacked again or in the first place:

1. Switch to paperless statements To prevent email theft, it limits the number of ways people can access sensitive information.

2. Use strong and unique passwords. Don’t reuse passwords across different accounts. Aim for complex combinations of uppercase and lowercase letters, numbers, and symbols. Consider using a password manager to create strong passwords and store them securely. Consider using a Password manager Generate and store complex passwords.

3. Enable two-factor authentication. Two-factor authentication adds an extra layer of security by requiring a second verification code in addition to your password, usually sent to your phone or generated by an app.

4. Check your bank statements regularlyso you can quickly identify unusual activity.

5. Enable alerts and notifications that your bank provides – you can set it for transactions that exceed a certain amount or when your balance falls below a certain amount.

TV presenter Andy Cohen was defrauded in an expensive bank fraud: Here’s how to avoid becoming a victim yourself

6. Request your annual credit report and stay updated on your report so you can quickly dispute any errors.

7. Keep an eye on your credit score, To alert you to suspicious activity when your score changes – some credit card companies provide this free of charge.

8th. Beware of phishing scams. Do not click on links or attachments in suspicious emails, even if they appear to be from your bank. Never enter your login details on websites that reach you via email links. Always access your bank’s website directly by typing the address into your browser or using a trusted bookmark.

9. Install and run antivirus software, This makes it less likely that hackers will access your bank account. The best way to protect yourself from clicking on malicious links that install malware that may gain access to your private data is to install antivirus protection on all your devices. This can also alert you to phishing emails or ransomware scams. Get my pick of the best antivirus winners of 2024 for your Windows, Mac, Android and iOS devices.

10. Use identity theft protection services to regularly monitor your accounts and help you if they become compromised. Identity theft companies can monitor personal information like your Social Security number (SSN), phone number, and email address and alert you if it is being sold on the dark web or used to open an account. They can also help you freeze your bank and credit card accounts to prevent further unauthorized use by criminals.

The best part about using some services is that they may include identity theft insurance up to $1 million to cover losses and legal fees and a white glove fraud resolution team where a The US-based case manager will help you recover any losses. Check out my tips and best tips on how to protect yourself from identity theft.


Kurt’s most important findings

The “telltale” signs that your bank account has been hacked are nerve-wracking, but there are steps you can take to regain control and prevent future victims. Staying on top of your accounts and transactions is just as important as taking advantage of the prevention tools and services available to you.

How comfortable are you with the security of online banking? What additional security measures do you think banks could implement? Let us know by writing to us


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