Friday, August 28, 2009

Identity Theft--it's not just about money anymore

Before I got the kids off to school this morning I received a phone call. My friend said, "Shawna, you need to check your Facebook page, NOW!"

As it turned out, my identity had been stolen on Facebook by some random, vile hacker. Since we are in the middle of a move between homes, I had no internet access available, so I had no idea of the degree of deviousness this person was perpetrating in my name.

Luckily, the people who know me got busy online and defended me. Thank You. You know who you are. In a very short period of time this person hacked into my Facebook page and sent malicious, profane, and hurtful messages to friends, family, and acquaintances, changed my profile (including maritial status and sexual preference), and posted a "story" about my husband and me which was not only badly written, but sick.

The hacker then got into my gmail account and sent a disgusting message to a friend of mine. Luckily, this friend is both intelligent and stocked with a good sense of humor, so that mess was cleared up easily. What I don't know is whether or not my email address list was taken, if publishers and other industry contacts were contacted in my name (which could affect the future of my career--no one wants to be blacklisted!) or if anyone else has been contacted maliciously and unaware of the hack. The hacker also found his/her way into my page on the Edgy Christian Fiction Lovers website and changed my profile and posted a comment which was not only derogatory toward Christianity, but offensive to the Christian publishing community.

Now it's up to me to clean up the mess. It's been a busy day.

I encourage you to change your passwords often, and not from public access computers/networks. Using the public library's computer was, apparently, the root of this evil. (Okay, not the original root, but we know who that is.) So far my bank accounts are without damage and I pray that remains the same. But money comes and goes--you only get one reputation, and all it takes is a few words in the wrong ear (or across the wrong screen, as the case may be) before your character is called into question and your testimony is damaged.

Thanks, again, to everyone who stood up for me on Facebook, Edgy Christian Fiction Lovers, and in my community. It's not over yet.