What should I do if my bank account is hacked?

If you notice unusual activity on your cards or bank statements, notify your bank immediately.

Don’t worry about cyber attacks, banks are well protected. There are constant attacks on banks via the Internet. Almost everyday, a bank will be susceptible to hackers. That’s where the money is so people naturally go after it.

A threat of a cyber attack should not be a reason to deter from using a financial institution despite there being multiple reasons in doing so.

Here’s how to find out if you’ve been hacked and how you can regain control of your bank account.

How will you know if you’ve been hacked?

Strange purchases that appear on your bank statement may be the first clue that a hacker has infiltrated your account. Always read credit card and bank statements. Allow some time to comprehend what each line means and whether or not your remember completing that transaction.

Sometimes the people that steal your card will make seemingly insignificant purchases to test and see if your card works before going to larger transactions.

Depending on your bank, they will notify you of suspicious activity and automatically cancel fraudulent charges and then give you a new card.

Lost or stolen card numbers

Don’t wait for your bank to realise. It's your account, so you're in charge of managing it. Check it regularly in order to avoid a mishap.

The first step the bank will take is freezing your account so no-one can access your account. If you go to your local bank branch, they will give you a temporary card, otherwise it will be sent to you in the mail.

Most banks will refund your lost money after you complete a form admitting that you didn't take part in the theft.

Despite that, here are several reasons why you shouldn't worry about hackers and what to do if it does happen to you:

Banks are liable

If a hacker steals any funds from a bank, the bank is liable to pay the money back to the customer. The customer will never lose money. In the event of a cyber attack, the hacker would try to use customer computers and take out a fraction of funds in order to avoid detection. If lots of computers did this, it would add up to a lot of stolen cash.

Banks are improving security

Since banks are constantly under attack, they need to improve every aspect of their security so they have the latest software designed to protect you and your money. Every attack doesn’t make the news, but generally the big ones do. Banks are constantly improving their systems for detecting and dealing with these problems.

Ensure your account is not vulnerable

Most banking websites allow you to activate a feature called "remember your password" when you log in via the Internet. You can then skip several layers of security the next time you log in since the bank recognises your computer’s IPv4 address - a unique identifier for each Internet connection.

Malware is a tool that hackers use to imitate your IPv4 address so they can gain access to your bank account. Often you don't even know that they have control over your bank account. It’s best to disable the “remember your computer” feature.

Make sure that you take precautions when banking online.

Beware of social engineering

Email software is pretty good at getting rid of spam the majority of the time, however, you may see something that resembles an official bank email that asks you to go to the bank's website to confirm your information. In reality, this could be a scam and the hacker has designed a site that mimics your bank's website. If something like this happens to you, don't enter your details such as a password unless you're sure it's a secure website.

You can often verify a website's validity since the Internet monitors the security certificate of that said website, so your mind can be at ease.

Don’t stash your money under your mattress

If you put your money under your mattress because you believe all banks are evil, you may be increasing the risk of having your money stolen.

Cash does not equal safe money. Unfortunately, the news perpetuates the fear that unless your money is in cash, it isn't safe. However it’s more likely that your house could be robbed and the criminals taking your money than it would be for a bank to lose your money due to cybercrime.

Have you been hacked while overseas?

If you believe you have fraudulent transactions on your debit card – whether the transactions came from overseas, or you're currently overseas – you will definitely need to block the card and lodge a dispute investigation. Before you go on holiday, it's always handy to have a list of phone numbers on hand in case of issues like this. Otherwise, a simple Google search should be able to find you the right number.

If your bank finds the transaction to be fraudulent, it will most likely refund the money.

Banks may have some flaws, but security software is constantly being improved to reflect the shared interests of the shareholders and customers.

Harry Page

Harry Page is currently working for as an investments and banking writer. He was previously a journalist with Financial Standard and covered a wide range of subjects including investments, financial planning, executive appointments and technology.

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