Protect Your Accounts from Hackers… and Your Kids

ThinkStock/Hasbro
Beware online hackers! They look like that scary guy on the right! ThinkStock/Hasbro

I have been the victim of hackers on two occasions: my debit card was stolen during the huge Target fiasco, and just last night… by my 6 year old son.

You don’t often think that a malicious cyber hacker is sitting in the next room, surrounded by toys and stuffed animals, and playing on his iPad, but that’s how they lull you into a false sense of security… and then rob you blind!

Honestly, there is nothing more devastating than having your account hacked and your identity stolen. I know. I felt helpless looking at purchases made with my hard-earned money that were not made by me. Just before Christmas.

Luckily, I had less than $50 stolen from me, but two years later–after police reports, claims to the bank, insurance claims on the account–I still haven’t had the money recovered. It’s okay though, the joke’s on the hacker who stole my account: I work in radio and half of your attempted purchases with my card were denied for insufficient funds! Ha! You stole a poor guy’s identity!

Aww… I made myself sad.

Last night several emails landed in my inbox that made my heart sink: a massive purchase on my card that I did not make. It was over $200! I scanned the emails in horror. Was my account hacked again? Someone just spent MY $200 at Amazon!

Then I looked at the order: Two (2) Transformers Ironhide action figures from ToyWiz.com (they were collectable versions, each was $99! What the what!?).

My son Jack and I
My son Jack and I, taken under the Perrine Bridge.

I stood up, walked to my son Jack’s bedroom, opened the door, and saw him sitting on his bed, surrounded by his stuffed animals and toys, the only light in the room coming from his iPad screen, and totally engulfed in videos about Transformers…

I understood what had happened.

“Jack,” I said, “were you just looking at pictures of Transformers?”

He nodded.

“Pictures of Ironhide?”

He nodded again, and started to look concerned. Daddy doesn’t usually come to his room this late unless it’s bed time, or he’s in trouble. He knew it wasn’t bed time yet.

I shook my head. “You just spent $200 on Transformers toys.”

He started to cry, “I’m sorry! I was just looking at pictures of toys!”

And, in his defense, he was.

The purchase was an accident, and one that was easily fixed. I contacted Amazon and ToyWiz and explained that my six-year-old-son had accidentally made the purchase and it was cancelled. A few hugs later, and a promise to look for a new Transformer toy–one in daddy’s price range–and Jack felt better too.

No harm done.

Just keep in mind that those features of our favorite devices, the ones that are supposed to make our lives easier by remembering things for us, can sometimes backfire against us. And if you’re an Apple household like I am, your passwords and saved data is shared across multiple devices giving your six-year-old son the ability to accidentally spend $200 on Transformers.

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