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Hackers Have a New Target: Your Retirement Accounts

Category: Financial and taxes in retirement

January 28, 2020 — Having tried to cheat you out of your money in dozens of other ways, hackers are now targeting retirement accounts. Unfortunately it can be very easy for them, and even worse than that, you might not get your money back if they steal it.

With retirement funds being one of their biggest assets, the stakes are huge for retirees.  This article will review some of the best ideas for protecting your accounts.

Email is the way most hackers use to break into your accounts. The usual methods include tricking you into downloading something, asking you to provide personal information to “solve a problem” with your account, or leading you to a dangerous site. The email might seem real and alarming, telling you there is a problem with your account.

A big problems is that the scammer might already have some of your personal information, stolen from a compromised site and subsequently sold on the dark web.  They probably already have your username, email and password for one site. Betting that you reuse the same password or a close variant of it , they can keep plugging in various combinations and sooner or later hit pay dirt. 

4 things to protect your retirement account. 

Rule #1: If an email even looks even faintly suspicious, don’t open it up. Never reply with any personal information or click on a suspicious link.

#2: Read all your statements every month. Look for unusual activity and amounts or transactions you don’t recognize.  Call your provider immediately if you do.

#3: Have virus software on your computer. Inexpensive products such as those from Norton will alert you to suspicious web pages and block most malware and other dangers. Keep the software up to date.

#4: Use different passwords for different sites – never reuse the same one. That way if one of your accounts is compromised you can contain the damage. Use a password manager to generate and/or store your passwords – Roboform and Lastpass are two popular ones. The safest but also the clumsiest way is to write all of them down in a notebook that you hope doesn’t fall into the wrong hands. The worst plan is to try try to hide them somewhere on your computer. To simplify things you might combine nonsense words that you can remember easily, such as Catdogfish222. But you must mix things up or the hackers will figure out your system.

Comments?  Have you been hacked ?  If so, how bad was it, and what did you do to recover ?  What systems do you use to stay safe ?  Please share your experiences in the Comments section below.

For further reading: USA Today article by Paul Gores:  “Cybercrooks Targeting Retirement Accounts”

Posted by Admin on January 27th, 2020


  1. My father was hacked, just last week but…was his fault. A pop-up appeared on his computer that looked as if it was from Microsoft. It asked him to call a number and they could fix his computer.

    From experience, with our son – who has helped us remotely, we know they will ask you to log on to a “share” website. That website will give you a password. If you read that password to the person on the phone they now have access to your computer like it was their own! (We have done that with our son so he could fix something then we both log off and delete the history) Dad did just that and they got into his online banking (another reason we don’t DO online banking) Fortunately my sister caught it right away and they contacted the bank immediately – hackers got nothing.

    I did that once, myself – got a pop-up during an airline ticket purchase. It looked like it was from my credit union and asked me to verify my credit card info. I didn’t think I could go any further without doing that. WRONG answer! They used my credit card to buy a credit report – which had ALL our accounts on it. Fortunately we had closed all the accounts but that one so they didn’t get much but, they did change the address and tried to make more purchases. It took us some time to clean up the mess but Navy Federal was terrific and helped us.

    So now, whenever that happens, I close or minimize everything. I DO NOT click on a link, I DO NOT download anything or call a phone number. I open a NEW window and go to that website directly myself and sign into my account. If there is a problem – it should be there. I have never found anything there that connects to the “alert”. Then you can just close and ignore the Pop-up or alert, or delete the e-mail.

    Good luck!!

    by Flatearth6 — January 29, 2020

  2. This is a great article and important that seniors are reminded how important it is to stay aware! I got an email from Bank of America asking for updates which I filled out because it had their Logo and looked very authentic, one of the last questions asked for my password which I knew was not right so I called the bank and they said always go directly to their website any messages from them would be there when I signed in and they would never ask for a password, so I was happy I trashed that before I filled it completely out. I dodged a bullet once again when I got an email from a utility company that started with “Dear Customer” I knew they always used my name so I called them and they told me the same thing, always go to the website, don’t fill out anything from an email.

    by Drew — January 29, 2020

  3. Passwords can drive you crazy but we have to change them often I didn’t know about Roboform and Lastpass, and will look into that. I hate keeping track of them. A funny story but true, when we were moving into our condo our son came to help and after all was set up he wanted to go online which we did not yet have yet , but his computer found a nearby network so he asked if we knew our nieghbors names when I told him Jim and Marcia, he typed in their names as the password and sure enough he got online. Taught us a quick lesson.

    by Paula — January 29, 2020

  4. Because of daily loneliness, many old people become extremely vulnerable to the very savvy tech predators who are looking for easy prey. Old people have always been considered easy prey by con artist, either by telephone or by door to door contact. The only thing that changed is we have jumped to a new platform. The same principles apply!

    by Bubbajog — January 30, 2020

  5. You are right about that Bubbajug! Unfortunately it is not just old people who are being tricked, although they are the most vulnerable. Some of the scams are so clever that even tech-savvy 20 somethings are being taken in. Read a great article by a writer who writes about computer issues who had multiple accounts hacked. She was embarrassed at how easy that was for them. So be careful.

    by Editor — January 30, 2020

  6. Just had an interesting experience that I thought I’d share in case it helps someone else. I have a Facebook account that I don’t use much. One of my Facebook “friends” is a former coworker & close friend in another state, who I’ve known for 20+ years. We were managers in a pretty high-profile technical industry. He recently retired, and lives an interesting life (he & his wife travel around the world, etc.) He recently ran for a political office in his state, and we sometimes chat on Facebook’s Messenger. I rec’d a friend request from one of his other Facebook friends. The name was generic and the picture was of a grandfather playing with an adorable grandkid. I decided to click O.K, and checked this person’s friends to see if there was anyone else we had worked with. Instead of finding other coworkers — almost everyone was a young, Indian or Pakistani male (countries prohibited by federal law from receiving technical information in our former industry), and including some in military uniforms, etc. So…this is another warning about your privacy settings, including sharing with “friends of friends.”

    by Kate — January 31, 2020

  7. I use a VPN and privacy websites, such as Brave and Waterfox. But continually check their privacy terms. Each have “add-ons” that eliminate cookies and restrict ads and similar marketing ploys upon close of browser or change of a webpage.

    Also, if you’re closing a bank website (or similar page that requires security), ALWAYS CLEAR THE CACHE before you move on to the next website (generally in settings or preferences) …browsers keep webpage content in the cache for quicker delivery next time you access it.

    If you can’t show the webpage contents to your family or on front page news, don’t even access it . Marketers, hackers, and deviants abound.

    by Jack — January 31, 2020

  8. Same goes for phone apps….if it is not an inconvenience, use your protected desktop for general info (such as weather, travel directions, news, and similar)–not your phone. GoOgle especially records everything via permissions (camera, emails, travel, etc)–app developers MUST allow these permissions now due to GoOgle’s rules. Not sure about iPhone/Apple…

    If you can use your desktop, do so instead of cellphone.

    And–oh yeah–the new 5G is more onerous–and severely unhealthy—with electromagnetic radiation EMFs.

    by Jack — January 31, 2020

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