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  • Writer's pictureBurton Kelso, Tech Expert

How Can I Protect Myself From Ghost-Hacking Scams?

Updated: Apr 10

We live in an age where your digital footprint will outlast your physical body. The online accounts of deceased people almost outpace those of the living and cyber criminals are now using those accounts to their advantage. Ghost hacking is new threat that is emerging where criminals are using these online profiles to commit scams and cyberattacks. This new threat highlights the fact that cyber-attacks are escalating. More than just protecting your personal and financial information, you have to ensure the digital safety of your deceased loved ones. Read on to find out what Ghost Hacking is and how to protect your loved ones legacy.

Ghost hacking occurs when hackers target and take over the accounts of recently deceased people, either for direct theft or to message family members and friends with scams. Crooks use obituaries to identify people who have recently passed away and try to hack into their email and social media accounts. Once they gain access to these accounts, crooks

will attempt to either drain bank accounts and retirement funds, or take out loans in the deceased person's name. Other times, the hackers will use the person's email and social accounts to send spam and scams to relatives. Criminals will target dead people's accounts because no one is monitoring these accounts for activity.

When cybercriminals use obituaries social media accounts, and public records to seek out vulnerable accounts dead people have left behind, they can launch cyber attacks to breach these 'ghost' accounts. Things like exploiting weak passwords, forgotten security questions and using stolen credentials obtained from previous data breaches allow crooks to put together a complete profile of the deceased that allows them to easily gain access to these 'ghost' accounts,

How can you protect your deceased family members from ghost hacking?

One of the best ways to avoid falling victim of ghost hackers' is to plan and put safe guards in place. Follow these tips:

  1. Gather account credentials. Before your loved ones pass away, get their account credentials so you can maintain their accounts. It also helps to get a list of all of the online accounts they use. One of the best ways to get both, is to encourge family members to use a password vault to store passwords.

  2. Use to find out if your deceased loved ones' information was leaked in a large-scale breach. This website will notify you if their information is on the dark web. When you know what information is out there, you can do a better job of protecting those accounts.

  3. Memorize all social media accounts. Facebook and Google, offer the option to establish a legacy contact of who can take over the account after death. Set these up for your loved ones so someone can take over in the event of their demise.

  4. Deactivate email and other online accounts. There's no reason your loved ones need to have active online accounts. It will take a lot of work, but close out those accounts. Leaving them active means criminals can gain information such as credit cards and other financial data.

Hopefully, this will help you keep an eye out for 'ghost hacking' scams. If you have any questions, please reach out. I'm always available.

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The above content is provided for information purposes only. All information included therein is subject to change without notice. I am not responsible for any direct or indirect damages, arising from or related to the use of or reliance on the above content.

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