Under Cyber Attack: Subscribed to Thousands of E-mail Lists

A few days ago I thought I was being pranked when a bunch of random subscription notices started showing up. Then it became a flood of messages, at least 10 every minute. I suspected some kind of cyber attack and immediately turned to Google, where I discovered I was experiencing a Denial of Service Attack (DoS).

cyber attack denial of service

From what I can gather, when it’s targeted at an individual (and not a big business) it is usually an attempt to commit credit card or bank fraud. They flood your inbox with tons of messages so you miss the important ones from your compromised accounts.

You can see from the pic above, the names are random and some of them appear to be what I guess is Russian. This is just a fraction of what’s coming in both to my in-box and spam folder. And these are all being sent to an e-mail address that I keep private and only use for my credit cards and important accounts. It’s not published anywhere and not associated with my blog or any websites.

Steps I’ve taken to protect myself during this cyber attack:

  1. Changed all my credit card and bank log-in and passwords
  2. Changed the e-mail associated with the accounts
  3. Activated text alerts for every purchase
  4. Checked all accounts every few hours
  5. Continuously checked and cleared e-mails throughout the day

It’s been three days and the cyber attack spam messages have slowed down to maybe a hundred every hour. I haven’t detected any fraud on any accounts so far, but I’m staying on high alert. I almost wish something would show up so I at least know which account to freeze! Trying not to let the anxiety get to me, but knowing some awful person or organization is targeting me with intent to do something bad is just a little nerve-wracking.

I’ll add an update to this post when it’s over or when I find out the purpose of this incredibly annoying onslaught. Anyone else experience this? Curious to know how long it lasted or how other people dealt with it.

* Update 11/11/19 It’s been a few weeks and one e-mail is pretty much normal now and the other is down to maybe 100 extra a day. I am now checking and clearing things out twice a day instead every hour. I never did discover any fraud on any accounts, so possibly I changed all my info in time.

The good news about all this is that it made me update everything, get organized and delete old accounts I don’t need. I even found money in an old college savings account I forgot about! So while I did not enjoy the e-mail attack, it ended up benefiting me in the end.

* Update 12/2/19 They finally hit me! Today I got a message on my phone that a charge for $1600 was pending for Neiman Marcus. Then another! And another! Four charges in total for over $1500 each, for shoes and purses. Because I had phone alerts set up, I was able to stop it within minutes of the charges and cancel the card. Then I checked my e-mail and after sifting through a couple hundred cyber attack spam e-mails I found the order confirmations. Weird thing was – they were all sent to my address!

This led me to another fraud tactic, where they purchase big ticket items, have them shipped to your house, and then send Fed-Ex to pick-up the “return packages” the next day. The thing is, they take the packages and they are sent somewhere besides the place you want them returned.

I am still on high alert for other charges! I was lucky to catch it all in time to stop the charges and cancel all the orders. I highly recommend those phone notifications for credit card purchases, at the very least for high dollar transactions.

*Update 12/24/19 The next day they tried again four more times. I had already closed the accounts so they were denied! No other cards were affected. I’m still getting a lot of leftover e-mail spam, but it appears the credit card fraud attack was successfully thwarted! So if this happens to you, I suggest freezing current cards and getting new ones asap if you can. I chose to watch and wait because I have several cards and many are set up with auto-billing so it would have been a pain to change all of the accounts. Looking back, it may have been easier to just do that instead of checking accounts several times a day!

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