We recently had a real estate customer have their email hacked, resulting in the hacker instructing the customer to wire $50,000 into a fictitous bank account for the purchase of the new home. When the home buyer realized there was a problem the $50,000 was dispersed into multiple accounts.

In hacked e-mail scams, scammers access a victim’s e-mail inbox – generally a free e-mail service such as Yahoo, Hotmail, or Gmail.  In most cases, the true owner of the e-mail account gave his or her account information and password to the scammer in response to an official-looking request, supposedly from the site administrators.

While large-scale breaches are one way your login information could be stolen—this summer, criminals stole 1.2 billion usernames and passwords.  Last year, Google released a study that reveals most people choose passwords based on readily available information, making their accounts hackable with a few educated guesses. Easy passwords make for easy hacking, and spammers use programs that can cycle through thousands of logins a second to identify weak accounts. Picking a strong password is your best protection from this type of hacking.

Computers in hotel lobbies, libraries and other public places are perfect locations for hackers to install key-logging programs. The computers are often poorly secured and get used by dozens of people every day who don’t think twice about logging into their email or bank accounts or entering credit card information to make a purchase. The best practice is to assume that any public computer is compromised and proceed accordingly.

Be safe and please change your password. Consider using @ for the letter A, #1 or an explanation point for the letter l, or Zero for the letter O.

If you have not purchased Data Breech Coverage you should consider it. Also, some E&O Policies will covered a Data Compromise, but most do not. See advice of your agent.