She was getting ready for her first Christmas since the divorce. It had been a bad year, to say the least. Alone with three young kids, Alicia was determined to make this a Christmas to remember. It was, but for all the wrong reasons.
It was Christmas Eve at the biggest toy store in New York City. She’d fought the crowds and found all the toys on the kids’ lists. As she waited in line to pay, she felt happy. Her parents would be coming to spend Christmas with her and the kids. It was true what people had told her – life really does go on. Finally, it was Alicia’s turn to pay. She pulled out her debit card – the only card she owned.
She heard the clerk say “declined,” but it didn’t register at first.
She’d just deposited over $10,000 into her account, so she knew there was no reason for her card to be declined. She asked the clerk to try again. He did. “Declined”.
Alicia had no choice but to leave the presents at the store. She left in tears. When she finally reached her bank, they told her that someone had accessed her banking information and cleaned out her account. The tears kept coming.
The statistics are scary. One in ten people will become the victim of an online crime. And many of those crimes happen on public Wi-Fi. Alicia was one of the “lucky” ones. She only lost money. If a hacker gets their hands on your banking info or personal data such as your social security number, you can lose way more than that.
We recently asked Alicia and other real victims of identity theft to share their stories and tell us how it really feels to be the victim of an online crime. In Alicia’s words, “It was the scariest thing that ever happened”. And even though she eventually got her money back, the fear and anxiety of the “worst Christmas ever” is still with her today.
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