Hacking, identity theft, and fraud are completely out of control. The government is way behind in dealing with this, and we have to protect ourselves as best as we can.
Here are some important things to know, and do:
1. Never wire funds based on email instructions without calling to confirm them. This is an extremely common fraud, unfortunately. Hacked emails make it easy for criminals to redirect wires. This happens to companies, and individuals, so if you own a business make sure your company policies demand verbal verification of all wires.
2. Freeze your credit reports to avoid fraudulent accounts being opened in your name. There are credit bureaus offering "locks" and other services, but a "credit freeze" is the only method that offers protections under the law. In the wake of the Equifax hack, I have frozen all my credit reports, and am recommending friends, family, and associates all do the same.
This article gives step by step instructions for freezing credit, it only takes about 5 minutes per bureau.
3. People who may be suffering from the early stages of dementia are at the greatest risk. I learned of a heartbreaking story where two elderly people fell for the Nigerian Prince scam, losing millions of dollars and having to sell their home.
If you know people with declining faculties, it's especially important to put protections in place - aggressive spam filters are the easiest place to start.
4. Enable 2 factor authentication on all important accounts, including your email. DO NOT USE YOUR PHONE as the second authentication factor. In other words, don't count on receiving a text message or call to your phone for verification, because hackers are stealing phone numbers. So, wherever possible you want to avoid this. Google, Microsoft, and other major firms offer authentication apps for your smartphone that bypass the phone number. This site provides details on two factor authentication for many services.
I hope this information is helpful. The steps above can potentially save hundreds of hours, millions of dollars, and the aggravation of correcting identity theft.
An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.