A few months ago, on a Friday night, I was feeling a little hungry. I decided to walk to the corner and try this hole in the wall Mexican place. I’d always seen this place but for some reason never tried it, until that night. I have to admit, I was feeling pretty excited to try the nacho’s when the worker looked at me and said my card was denied. “Try it again, I have money in that account”, I said. He proceeded to try it again and it was again denied. I was speechless.
I immediately called Chase and got through to a nice lady. Nice or not, she informed me Google had charged all of the remaining funds out of my account. A little freaked out, I began to back-trace. Within about a half hour I realized exactly what had happened:
Someone hacked my Amazon account which used an @gmail.com email address. They used this email address to log into my Google account. How? Both accounts had the same password. In my Google account they saw I had an active Google Adwords account (these are the ads on top of Google when you search something). This Adwords account had a credit card linked to it and the rest is history.
The only reason this scumbag was able to charge my card for loads of money was because I have the same password for all my online accounts. The next morning I decided…never again will this happen. I came up with the plan below.
How to Properly Manage your Online Accounts
Let’s face it, you have a lot of online accounts. There is only one way to ensure that you will not get hacked like I did. You need different passwords that are completely unique for each account. Here’s how I solved it in an organized fashion.
1. Open Excel and make a new spreadsheet.
2. List all of your online accounts and usernames.
3. Make a unique password with upper and lower cases, numbers and special characters for each account.
4. Example Password: “y^709fiR2#4” (without quotes)
5. Sign into each account and change your passwords to the new one.
6. Spend the next month or two memorizing the new passwords. Logging in frequently helps.
7. After a few months go by delete the spreadsheet. If you are uncomfortable print it out.
If you follow these steps I can all but guarantee that what happened to me a few months ago will never happen to you.