Every day hackers send millions of phishing emails and sometimes they get lucky. All it takes is one mouse click on the wrong link and our computer is infected with malware. Criminals can then steal sensitive personal information, or use the infected computer as part of a botnet.
This is more than just an annoyance. When your computer is infected, you become the victim of a crime.
Making a judgement call
When it comes to a basic malware infection, law enforcement will probably not be interested. You can report the issue, but because the damage is relatively small it is unlikely they will conduct even the most basic of investigations.
That will change if you find that personal data is being stolen, or you have been the victim of identity theft however. These crimes can have far reaching consequences – for you and any other individuals or companies that the hackers try to defraud. It is highly likely that you are just one of several people affected, so the police will need to act.
So what do you do if you have been hacked?
Scan for malware
If your computer has been compromised, you need to limit the potential for damage. By removing malware you break the hacker’s connection to your computer and prevent them from stealing any more information. If you don’t have anti-malware installed, you should download a free Panda Dome trial immediately.
Change your passwords
Next, you need to change your passwords just in case they have been compromised too. Don’t forget to change the passwords/codes on all of your devices – computer, tablet and phone.
Contact your bank
Next, you need to prevent further fraudulent activity. Contact your bank and explain the situation. They will probably cancel your credit cards and place a temporary hold on your bank account while they investigate the breach.
The police and your insurance company will want evidence of crimes committed. Where possible you should take screenshots that show the damage caused. Instructions for Windows 10 and Mac OS.
Contact the police
Now you’re ready to contact the police. Each country and police force has their own process for reporting cybercrime, so follow the instructions on their website. In the UK, all cybercrimes are referred to a specialist unit called ActionFraud for instance. Don’t forget to ask for a case reference number.
Contact the credit reference agencies
Fraud committed using your identity will be recorded against your credit file. Contact the agencies to report your situation – they can then remove the fraudulent transactions so that your credit score is not affected.
Being the victim of hacking and identity theft is incredibly stressful – but you must act quickly to limit the damage. Reporting the crime helps police track organised criminals and helps to protect you against long term implications, like damage to your credit score.
If you’d like to know more about identity theft, take a look at our article 5 ways to tell if you’re a victim of identity theft.