Stolen account numbers/SSN/etc

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new2bogle
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Stolen account numbers/SSN/etc

Post by new2bogle » Mon Jun 27, 2016 11:27 am

My parents have a huge problem right now. This past semester they hosted an international student (indian), university age. My father is a professor at the university. This student lived with my parents. After getting back home (in india), the student has informed my parents that they have stolen copies of their financial statements, SSNs (even their kids (i.e., me and my siblings) from past financial forms) and names/addresses of their friends and dad's colleagues (i.e., other profs). Student has not demanded anything yet but left a voicemail implying that student may start contacting friends/colleagues. Not sure about what. Happened Friday. My parents are old (72) so they are extremely overloaded. They are meeting with a couple of lawyers just to see legal options.

Aside from that, I've told them to inform all banks/brokerages/etc. about the breach and start cancelling credit cards (though I told them CCs is lower priority with the number of calls they need to make now). I also told them to talk to their friends and let them know. I will also ask them freeze credit reports (we will all do that).

What can someone do from india with all this information? SSN will not change, so is there a concern there in the future? I am sure I am missing a lot of things as my head is still spinning.

I do not mean to be disrespectful to any culture/nationality, I hope I do not come across like that.

Rupert
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Re: Stolen account numbers/SSN/etc

Post by Rupert » Mon Jun 27, 2016 11:53 am

First, call the police and/or FBI. This is a both a local and federal crime. The local police won't be able to do anything about it, but the police report will be helpful in dealing with the credit reporting companies. Make sure the police report lists all potential victims of the crime so that victims other than your parents can use the report to freeze their credit for free. Alternatively, each victim can report the crime and obtain an individual report.
Last edited by Rupert on Mon Jun 27, 2016 11:54 am, edited 1 time in total.

ThrowinDarts
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Re: Stolen account numbers/SSN/etc

Post by ThrowinDarts » Mon Jun 27, 2016 11:54 am

What a nice thank you from this punk for your parent's hospitality.

JW-Retired
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Re: Stolen account numbers/SSN/etc

Post by JW-Retired » Mon Jun 27, 2016 12:01 pm

What did the police say? That should have been their very first call?
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Rob5TCP
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Re: Stolen account numbers/SSN/etc

Post by Rob5TCP » Mon Jun 27, 2016 12:01 pm

Why would he inform his parents. This is a total betrayal of trust. But, why not just go ahead and commit massive fraud on this account. Why give warning so his parents can close his accounts and setup new numbers.

Is it even possible that the student's email was hacked and this is from the hacker.
Keeping quiet about it and just go using all the forms would seem to be the more profitable (though equally despicable) thing to do.

The university in India that he is from she be informed of all transactions.

joebh
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Re: Stolen account numbers/SSN/etc

Post by joebh » Mon Jun 27, 2016 12:12 pm

new2bogle wrote:After getting back home (in india), the student has informed my parents that they have stolen copies of their financial statements, SSNs (even their kids (i.e., me and my siblings) from past financial forms) and names/addresses of their friends and dad's colleagues (i.e., other profs). Student has not demanded anything yet but left a voicemail implying that student may start contacting friends/colleagues. Not sure about what.


Pretty fishy.

Unless they provided proof, it's not clear that they have actually stolen anything, or that the "student" who informed your parents is actually the same student who visited.

Inform the authorities. They can tell you what to do.

Don't provide any money or other ransom, nor even acknowledge the voicemail.

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Aptenodytes
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Re: Stolen account numbers/SSN/etc

Post by Aptenodytes » Mon Jun 27, 2016 12:27 pm

I'm guessing the following.

1) The thief is unsophisticated and unaware of how to make money off of pilfered identity data. Otherwise, why waste time writing down names of friends and colleagues and mentioning this to your parents? And why waste time describing the theft to the victims instead of executing the fraud?

2) Because of (1), you have to consider that perhaps there was no theft, but rather someone is pranking the student.

3) To be safe, you have to assume that there was a theft, and that it includes SSN, names and birthdates. That means your parents should put an immediate block on credit score inquiries, to avoid having someone take out credit cards or loans in their names. You and siblings should do the same.

4) You probably want to assume that the thief captured enough information to get access to financial accounts, either by discovering paper with passwords on it or by engaging in social engineering with collected information. So to be safe your parents should change all passwords to all email accounts and financial accounts. Do the email accounts first.

5) Putting the whole picture together, I'm guessing the risks are low but not too low to ignore. If it were me I would do (3) and (4) but not cancel existing credit cards.

new2bogle
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Re: Stolen account numbers/SSN/etc

Post by new2bogle » Mon Jun 27, 2016 12:53 pm

Existing credit cards have had some fraudulent activity already. Because of the credit card charges, we are assuming the person has what he said he does. I spoke with an attorney and they will help in speaking with the police due to the allegations made.

Responding to why were threats made and not just draining the accounts: I agree draining accounts would have been easier. So it is possible that he doesn't have that OR doesn't know how to use it from india. At this point we assume he has what he says.

Financially, this has been done:
1) Fidelity: all account numbers changed, online access blocked entirely for now.
2) Banking: left a message at Wells Fargo "premier banking" but no response yet
3) CU: Changing account numbers at credit union
4) Some CCs cancelled (the ones with fraudulent activity)

Left to do:
1) Freeze credit reports.

On financial side, any other ideas?

Thanks so much.

Whakamole
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Re: Stolen account numbers/SSN/etc

Post by Whakamole » Mon Jun 27, 2016 1:05 pm

You may want to let the IRS know as well, so (hopefully) nobody files tax returns using their SS#.

https://www.identitytheft.gov/

goingup
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Re: Stolen account numbers/SSN/etc

Post by goingup » Mon Jun 27, 2016 1:53 pm

new2bogle wrote:This past semester they hosted an international student (indian), university age.

Curious, was the student hosted through one the international exchange programs? Does the program assume any liability for criminal behavior?

Seems as though your father would have the ability to contact the student's parents, school, and references in India. I suppose that's why they got a lawyer. What a terrible situation for your parents. :(

new2bogle
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Re: Stolen account numbers/SSN/etc

Post by new2bogle » Mon Jun 27, 2016 2:04 pm

Whakamole wrote:You may want to let the IRS know as well, so (hopefully) nobody files tax returns using their SS#.

https://www.identitytheft.gov/



Ugh. Thanks for the link.

I don't know if the person has a network in the U.S. where he sends the SSNs. If he does not, can he file a tax return from another country?

Katietsu
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Re: Stolen account numbers/SSN/etc

Post by Katietsu » Mon Jun 27, 2016 2:09 pm

Yes, a tax return can be filed from anywhere.

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Watty
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Re: Stolen account numbers/SSN/etc

Post by Watty » Mon Jun 27, 2016 2:15 pm

I would also be concerned that the student had access to their computers and may have installed malware or key logging devices so that even if they change their passwords the student could still be collecting the new ones. This could also be an issue with their smartphones and tablets if they have them.

To be a bit paranoid the student could have also left hidden microphones or cameras that might be connected to the internet through wifi. They should also change their wifi password.

Many laptops and tablets have built in cameras and microphones that can be accessed remotely with the right software.

If they have voicemail then they should also change that password.

Rob5TCP wrote:Why would he inform his parents. This is a total betrayal of trust. But, why not just go ahead and commit massive fraud on this account. Why give warning so his parents can close his accounts and setup new numbers.


+1

This is extremely odd

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unclescrooge
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Re: Stolen account numbers/SSN/etc

Post by unclescrooge » Mon Jun 27, 2016 2:25 pm

Are you sure it was the same student who left a voicemail, or did you just assume that?

It may be that your parents email accounts were hacked, and the hackers have enough personal information to make up this story to extort money.

new2bogle
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Re: Stolen account numbers/SSN/etc

Post by new2bogle » Mon Jun 27, 2016 2:41 pm

unclescrooge wrote:Are you sure it was the same student who left a voicemail, or did you just assume that?

It may be that your parents email accounts were hacked, and the hackers have enough personal information to make up this story to extort money.



I met the student when I was visiting my parents and exchanged WhatsApp ids. He also contacted my wife saying he's got information on her in-laws. So I really do think it's him, and not someone else pretending to be him. Plus, the kinds of details left on the voicemail would be odd for someone who doesn't know my parents. But I suppose anything is possible.

My parents coincidentally got a new wifi router. I will make sure that they set the password to something different than what they had before. I did think of the key logging thing on my dad's laptop. I will ask if that is a possibility (i.e., if he had access to it or if my dad uses a password for it). Is there a way to tell if a keylogger is installed?

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samsoes
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Re: Stolen account numbers/SSN/etc

Post by samsoes » Mon Jun 27, 2016 3:26 pm

new2bogle wrote: Is there a way to tell if a keylogger is installed?


Please download and install Malwarebytes and do a full scan. http://www.malwarebytes.com - it's an amazing product and will likely find anything planted on your parents' computer.

(I'm not affiliated, but I am a very satisfied customer.)
"Happiness Is Not My Companion" - Gen. Gouverneur K. Warren. (Avatar is the statue of Gen. Warren at Little Round Top @ Gettysburg National Military Park.)

JW-Retired
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Re: Stolen account numbers/SSN/etc

Post by JW-Retired » Mon Jun 27, 2016 4:03 pm

new2bogle wrote:
I met the student when I was visiting my parents and exchanged WhatsApp ids. He also contacted my wife saying he's got information on her in-laws. So I really do think it's him, and not someone else pretending to be him. Plus, the kinds of details left on the voicemail would be odd for someone who doesn't know my parents. But I suppose anything is possible.

My parents coincidentally got a new wifi router. I will make sure that they set the password to something different than what they had before. I did think of the key logging thing on my dad's laptop. I will ask if that is a possibility (i.e., if he had access to it or if my dad uses a password for it). Is there a way to tell if a keylogger is installed?

What is his con associated with him talking to your parents and wife about his ID theft? Why? Something must be going on that you have not thought of yet. e.g., if he put a keylogger on your system he might want them to rush and change all their passwords so he can get them in a bunch. Otherwise he might need to log for weeks/months before he gets many of them.

Did the police ID theft unit actually investigate anything and give advice? It might be useful to know what else besides the computer is covered with his fingerprints.
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new2bogle
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Re: Stolen account numbers/SSN/etc

Post by new2bogle » Mon Jun 27, 2016 4:26 pm

samsoes wrote:
new2bogle wrote: Is there a way to tell if a keylogger is installed?


Please download and install Malwarebytes and do a full scan. http://www.malwarebytes.com - it's an amazing product and will likely find anything planted on your parents' computer.

(I'm not affiliated, but I am a very satisfied customer.)



Thank you. Will tell them to do this.

new2bogle
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Re: Stolen account numbers/SSN/etc

Post by new2bogle » Mon Jun 27, 2016 4:28 pm

JW-Retired wrote:
new2bogle wrote:
I met the student when I was visiting my parents and exchanged WhatsApp ids. He also contacted my wife saying he's got information on her in-laws. So I really do think it's him, and not someone else pretending to be him. Plus, the kinds of details left on the voicemail would be odd for someone who doesn't know my parents. But I suppose anything is possible.

My parents coincidentally got a new wifi router. I will make sure that they set the password to something different than what they had before. I did think of the key logging thing on my dad's laptop. I will ask if that is a possibility (i.e., if he had access to it or if my dad uses a password for it). Is there a way to tell if a keylogger is installed?

What is his con associated with him talking to your parents and wife about his ID theft? Why? Something must be going on that you have not thought of yet. e.g., if he put a keylogger on your system he might want them to rush and change all their passwords so he can get them in a bunch. Otherwise he might need to log for weeks/months before he gets many of them.

Did the police ID theft unit actually investigate anything and give advice? It might be useful to know what else besides the computer is covered with his fingerprints.
JW



Parents are meeting with lawyer to have representation when talking to police. I have intentionally left out some details concerning some threats/allegations in which I want parents to have representation while talking to police.

BlackHawk31
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Re: Stolen account numbers/SSN/etc

Post by BlackHawk31 » Thu Jun 30, 2016 6:42 pm

Sorry, but this is why you do not let others enter your home and live with you...particularly someone with a means of escaping to another country.

I agree - call the local and federal authorities. If there's any hope to "catch" the punk, it will likely involve Interpol and/or Indian local authorities (zero confidence in them.)

Sound like you're taking the right steps. Cancel everything and throw flags everywhere you can (credit reports, banks, investment companies.) I hope you have some type of identity theft protection as well.

Still not sure how this person would gain access and have unsupervised access to such important documents. To add, he should have never been allowed system access to your devices or network. If anything, a segmented guest network should have been set up just for him.

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obafgkm
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Re: Stolen account numbers/SSN/etc

Post by obafgkm » Thu Jun 30, 2016 9:11 pm

BlackHawk31 wrote:Sorry, but this is why you do not let others enter your home and live with you...particularly someone with a means of escaping to another country.


Nonsense. One anecdote of a terrible situation like this shouldn't outweigh the (overwhelming) majority of situations of hosting somebody in one's home where nothing of the sort happened.

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Re: Stolen account numbers/SSN/etc

Post by krv » Fri Jul 01, 2016 11:59 pm

This is really bad, and a very abnormal and unusual thing to happen to someone like your parents who so generously opened their homes to an international student. As a person of Indian origin, I apologize that something like this would ever occur; I've been the beneficiary of the kindness of professors at my university many years ago and can't imagine anyone ever betraying that trust in this fashion.

An additional suggestion: Consider have your attorney and/or your local police contact the Indian Embassy (https://www.indianembassy.org/) or Indian consulate (for instance this one in SF: http://www.cgisf.org/), speaking to their leadership and filing a formal complaint in writing. There are very strict guidelines for passport issuance for Indian citizens around not committing crimes (in either the home country or country being visited) with long lasting ramifications for someone who does. The embassy should have home addresses in India for the individual and their immediate family that have been verified. Action from the appropriate embassy official can put a world of hurt on the individual from the passport and police officials to make this person accountable for their actions and make sure they don't misuse the stolen data.

mhalley
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Re: Stolen account numbers/SSN/etc

Post by mhalley » Sat Jul 02, 2016 8:24 pm

Parents should put a credit freeze in place, in addition to the above actions of changing passwords on all accounts. I would probably cancel all credit cards amend bank accounts also.

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BL
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Re: Stolen account numbers/SSN/etc

Post by BL » Sat Jul 02, 2016 11:39 pm

The FTC (Federal Trade Commission) should also be notified on any identity theft. They even have a pdf to download on the subject:
https://www.consumer.ftc.gov
Taking Charge: What to do if Your Identity is Stolen

You can report it online:
https://www.identitytheft.gov/

Would definitely cancel any debit cards immediately. Probably with credit cards, they would be willing to simply change the number so you can keep the history. Freeze credit reporting companies. Many good ideas above.

This reminds me of an occasion long ago when someone stole mail and then left message listing what he stole and what he wanted, minimal and childish, except it included an implied threat to early teen daughter. It was investigated but to no avail. It did include stolen checks and new cc, so those account numbers were changed.

Anyway, things are much more international now, and there are theft rings who buy and sell this info, so would definitely take it very seriously. I might be tempted to get a Chromebook to use for accessing financial institutions and not using any machine he might have had access to, at least for a while. Perhaps our IT folks would have a better idea on safety here.

This might just be a time when a credit monitering system would be worthwhile. Also thanks for suggestion on contacting embassy.
Last edited by BL on Sat Jul 02, 2016 11:49 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Stolen account numbers/SSN/etc

Post by pondering » Sat Jul 02, 2016 11:41 pm

Do any of the financial institutions allow read only electronic access to the accounts? This would make monitoring easier, and lower the risk of fraudulent activity.
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corn18
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Re: Stolen account numbers/SSN/etc

Post by corn18 » Sun Jul 03, 2016 3:23 am

I would not use any communication device they had when the student was there (computer, network, cell phone, phone). Go buy a new computer and a new wifi hotspot and do all your work that way. You must assume this person hacked everything. And as another poster mentioned, if they have a keylogger installed, you just made it worse.

And get that credit freeze in place for everyone now.

Longdog
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Re: Stolen account numbers/SSN/etc

Post by Longdog » Sun Jul 03, 2016 4:45 am

In addition to all the great advice already given, they should review their homeowners or renters insurance policy to understand whether there is coverage related to identity theft. That might even cover their legal consultations.
Steve

Mordoch
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Re: Stolen account numbers/SSN/etc

Post by Mordoch » Sun Jul 03, 2016 1:15 pm

corn18 wrote:I would not use any communication device they had when the student was there (computer, network, cell phone, phone). Go buy a new computer and a new wifi hotspot and do all your work that way. You must assume this person hacked everything. And as another poster mentioned, if they have a keylogger installed, you just made it worse.

And get that credit freeze in place for everyone now.

This frankly would be an overreaction with the regular phone component actually being rather absurd. (We're not exactly talking about a Russian intelligence agent here.)

This clearly is a rather amateurish version of identity theft by the student because telling the parents was just stupid in terms of maximizing financial gain and limiting the risk he has to worry about criminal charges, which it sounds like could also potentially include extortion given the way he has been handling his communications.

Honestly with the computer if he's concerned he (or one of his parents) could download and run another antispyware program such as the free version of Spybot Search and Destroy as well to catch anything the other program might have possible missed. (If either program comes across programs identified as trojans or keyloggers, at that point it may make sense to be more paranoid and take more precautions in case not everything has been caught.)
https://www.safer-networking.org/

Making sure they have run a scan for at least one recently updated anti-virus program would be a good idea as well. If they are really paranoid they could resort to a new computer for piece of mind, but that really comes across as causing more aggravation/cost than this situation is worth given the specific nature of the threat here.

In terms of the cell phone, a practical question is what level of access could the student have plausibly have gotten during his time there. The other key is whether the phone actually runs aps accessing financial data or the like or is simply used for purely non sensitive general web browsing sometimes. (Although regardless I would probably have them uninstall any added aps on their phone which they don't remember what they do.) Significantly though actually buying a new cell phone is utterly unnecessary with it possible to perform a factory reset of either an Iphone or other varieties which would wipe out anything which could have been covertly installed. (Running the anti-spyware programs for the computer first would be the right way to handle this though.)
http://www.digitaltrends.com/mobile/how ... an-iphone/

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Re: Stolen account numbers/SSN/etc

Post by Mudpuppy » Sun Jul 03, 2016 1:51 pm

corn18 wrote:I would not use any communication device they had when the student was there (computer, network, cell phone, phone). Go buy a new computer and a new wifi hotspot and do all your work that way. You must assume this person hacked everything. And as another poster mentioned, if they have a keylogger installed, you just made it worse.

Replacing all of the devices is overkill. It sounds like we're dealing with someone at the level of a script kiddy here, not an uber-hacker from an elite government organization. So anything he may have done is likely a "just download off the Internet and run" sort of malware, not something that has wormed its way into the firmware of the hardware.

So doing a factory reset on the phones and reinstalling the OS on the computers would be a much more reasoned response. And even that might be overkill. They might even be okay with a thorough malware scan and cleaning, instead of a complete reinstall.

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Re: Stolen account numbers/SSN/etc

Post by Caduceus » Sun Jul 03, 2016 2:02 pm

Some parts of this story don't make sense and I suspect we're not getting all the details. If he were doing this for financial gain, he would not tell his intended victims in advance, nor threaten to email other colleagues/professors. It seems there's a "revenge" component to this scenario and his behavior is more consistent with someone who wants to cause worry, pain and public embarassment - perhaps over some misunderstanding or slight. Have you tried asking him what exactly it is that he wants? Has he made any financial demands? To assess the nature of your exposure, you should try to find out what he's after.

What were the fraudulent purchases, by the way? CC companies would most likely have flagged purchases from India, no? Or does the pattern suggest the information was sold in the black market and others used it?

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corn18
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Re: Stolen account numbers/SSN/etc

Post by corn18 » Sun Jul 03, 2016 2:15 pm

Mudpuppy wrote:
corn18 wrote:I would not use any communication device they had when the student was there (computer, network, cell phone, phone). Go buy a new computer and a new wifi hotspot and do all your work that way. You must assume this person hacked everything. And as another poster mentioned, if they have a keylogger installed, you just made it worse.

Replacing all of the devices is overkill. It sounds like we're dealing with someone at the level of a script kiddy here, not an uber-hacker from an elite government organization. So anything he may have done is likely a "just download off the Internet and run" sort of malware, not something that has wormed its way into the firmware of the hardware.

So doing a factory reset on the phones and reinstalling the OS on the computers would be a much more reasoned response. And even that might be overkill. They might even be okay with a thorough malware scan and cleaning, instead of a complete reinstall.


Maybe you're right. I was describing what I would do and that is assume the worst until I proved otherwise. A new laptop is $500. WiFi hotspot is $50 a month. Small price to pay to start clean and get online stuff changed while minimizing exposure to suspect hardware/software. If your approach is wrong, he's hosed. If my approach is wrong, he's out a few hundred bucks.

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Re: Stolen account numbers/SSN/etc

Post by Mudpuppy » Sun Jul 03, 2016 2:39 pm

corn18 wrote:
Mudpuppy wrote:
corn18 wrote:I would not use any communication device they had when the student was there (computer, network, cell phone, phone). Go buy a new computer and a new wifi hotspot and do all your work that way. You must assume this person hacked everything. And as another poster mentioned, if they have a keylogger installed, you just made it worse.

Replacing all of the devices is overkill. It sounds like we're dealing with someone at the level of a script kiddy here, not an uber-hacker from an elite government organization. So anything he may have done is likely a "just download off the Internet and run" sort of malware, not something that has wormed its way into the firmware of the hardware.

So doing a factory reset on the phones and reinstalling the OS on the computers would be a much more reasoned response. And even that might be overkill. They might even be okay with a thorough malware scan and cleaning, instead of a complete reinstall.


Maybe you're right. I was describing what I would do and that is assume the worst until I proved otherwise. A new laptop is $500. WiFi hotspot is $50 a month. Small price to pay to start clean and get online stuff changed while minimizing exposure to suspect hardware/software. If your approach is wrong, he's hosed. If my approach is wrong, he's out a few hundred bucks.

That's a rather simplistic estimate of what you're asking the OP's parents to do. A good WiFi hotspot that supports 802.11AC isn't going to be as cheap as $50; we're talking more the $100-200 range for those sorts of hotspots. Tablets will run about $500 a piece, to be sure, but the other devices will vary dramatically in cost. Every smartphone they replace will run anywhere from $100-800 depending on model and features. Likewise, a laptop could run $200-1500 depending on the features the OP's parents need to complete their jobs as professors. For all you know, they are professors of mathematics, physics, or engineering, where they'll need a machine capable of running Matlab with large datasets to work from home (so we're not talking people who can grab a Chromebook and call it a day).

So you could be asking them to spend thousands of dollars "just to be sure".... Maybe they can afford that, maybe they can't. It's still not a realistic cost-vs-benefit analysis.

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corn18
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Re: Stolen account numbers/SSN/etc

Post by corn18 » Sun Jul 03, 2016 2:45 pm

I was confused. I didn't mean to replace all the hardware, just get something that is 100% safe to get all the online stuff changed as they brill lean up the old hardware.

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Higman
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Re: Stolen account numbers/SSN/etc

Post by Higman » Sun Jul 03, 2016 3:14 pm

samsoes wrote:
new2bogle wrote: Is there a way to tell if a keylogger is installed?


Please download and install Malwarebytes and do a full scan. http://www.malwarebytes.com - it's an amazing product and will likely find anything planted on your parents' computer.

(I'm not affiliated, but I am a very satisfied customer.)


The default settings for Malwarebytes does not scan for rootkits. Go to Settings, "Detection & Protection" and turn on "scan for rootkits".

ingenue
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Re: Stolen account numbers/SSN/etc

Post by ingenue » Mon Jul 04, 2016 2:30 pm

I second the recommendation to make sure the crime is reported to the federal level. In addition to the FBI, notify the State Department, either directly, if possible, or through the student program at the university. If State receives documentation of criminal activity, it is likely the individual will never be granted another visa to visit the U.S.

-ingenue

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