The Takeaway Heist
"One day I got a notification on my phone from a food-delivery app saying that a restaurant in West London (I live South) had accepted my order. I’ll admit I get takeaway a lot, but that day I hadn’t ordered anything, let alone five kebabs to a random address in Shepherd’s Bush! Turns out my account had been hacked, and someone was using my card to order dinner.
"Luckily the app shows you your order at every stage, so while frantically changing my details and speaking to customer service, I got a notification saying that my driver was nearby. I called the driver and told him not to deliver the food, that my account had been hacked, and my card details used. I didn’t realise he was literally about to hand over the food to the people who hacked my account, but luckily he understood what I was saying, refused to give them the food, and shouted at them — I could hear him saying “You guys are bad people!” before driving off!"
The Slow Burner
"I once had my card details stolen, but it took me about a week to notice as the perpetrator was only spending small, incremental amounts of money. At first it was £5.50 in the supermarket (but not the usual supermarket brand I go to), then it became money at the post office (of all places!). Then, finally, I knew it wasn't me when they bulk ordered some takeaway from a well-known pizza place when I certainly hadn't done so. Someone was eating pizza out of MY MONEY! Outrageous!
"I'd recently bought some clothes off a website that in hindsight was perhaps a bit dodgy and I suspect that was probably the source of my problem. It took ages to sort out since there were so many payments over a number of days. I had to phone up my bank and cancel my cards, then wait on new cards to arrive, so I had to go old-school and use cash for a bit. It was inconvenient and felt slightly unfair!"
The Sunnies Situation
"I recently had my social media accounts hacked — I only noticed after I started getting messages from my friends asking why I was flogging cheap sunglasses on two of my linked accounts. I was at work and didn't know what to do!
"I had to message the platforms and change all my passwords. It was quite labour-intensive to sort out, and I felt embarrassed that people I hadn't spoken to in years were getting messages off me about some supposedly good deals on what I can only imagine were fake sunnies. It was definitely a bit of a loss-of-control situation, and it meant that I couldn't fully concentrate on my actual work that day!"
The Follow Spree
"My social media account was somehow hacked, and I have no idea how it happened.
"I went onto my feed one day and scrolled through it and saw posts from accounts I don’t remember following. They were spam-esque photos that used loads of hashtags, and the captions were in Russian. I also noticed that the adverts on my feed were really strange: They were very sketchy-looking adverts that were photos of women, with a name and number in the caption, so I’m pretty sure they were adverts for a sex chatline (at best).
"I went onto my ‘following’ list and saw that my account had been hacked to follow a whole series of accounts that I didn’t follow myself. I immediately changed my password and alerted the platform’s security team to the issue."
The Rude Awakening
"A couple of weeks ago, I was about to go on a two-week work trip to South Africa when I realised that I couldn't open one of my social media accounts anymore. I checked my email and found that I had a message telling me I'd set a new password for the account, when I hadn't.
"When my girlfriend checked my account from her phone, she noticed that the account name had been changed. It was then clear to me that it had been hacked. I was already all packed up and ready to go on my trip so was quite nervous — I searched online for some advice on what to do, but I was in such a rush and couldn't find any useful information. During my trip nothing happened, so I ended up accepting that I'd lost the account and that I'd have to set up a new one.
"But when I got back from my trip I received about 10 messages from people telling me porn had been posted on the account. In that moment, I felt absolutely helpless as I still didn't know what to do and if this was just a one-time post or whether it was just the beginning. I told all my friends to report the account as spam and eventually, the account disappeared, but I'm still unsure whether the name was just changed again. The whole situation has left me with a really bad feeling, and I've lost trust in my other social media accounts and even my online banking."
The Numbers Game
“My husband and I were going travelling so I knew we'd have to get different SIM cards as we moved to different countries. However, I didn't want to get a new number each time and have to keep updating apps with them. I managed to find a website that generates a phone number you can connect to apps no matter which country you are in, so I did that. At first I didn't notice anything, but then my sister-in-law messaged me saying that she got a weird message on a messaging app from me (it was some weird video of a horse in a barn and was so dodgy). She knew it wasn’t me so her husband tried video-calling the number and ended up having a chat with a random person (from the barn!). I remember not being able to open the app to see what was going on; it was like it was completely hijacked, so it was really scary to not have any control or oversight on what was being sent from “me”. In the end, I managed to delete the app and changed my number entirely. All I can say is I was grateful my family got in touch so fast — who knows what could have been sent from my phone?!”
The Data Breach Bill
"An airline I'd previously booked with and had my card details registered with had a data breach so someone got ahold of my information and managed to spend £967 on my card! The payment was to a catalogue store so they were probably buying electricals. Luckily I noticed quite early on, but it took a half-hour call to my bank and about two weeks to get the money back in my account."
Hackers can use your email to access many of your personal accounts, leaving you vulnerable to identity theft or fraud. Check out the Cyber Aware website for advice on simple ways to be more secure online.
Additional imagery from Getty / iStock