Hacked, Scammed – Lessons Learned

Hacked, Scammed – Lessons Learned

Hacked, Scammed – Lessons Learned

My computer was hacked and I was scammed two weeks ago. And the lessons learned are: Why was I so gullible? How do I push back on the inner critic? What do I do differently going forward?

The first lesson, really, is why didn’t I ask for help sooner? The scam was on a Sunday morning (big clue right there). A window with the Windows logo popped up on my computer screen. “A severe security threat has been detected. We have disabled your computer. Call this number….”

My computer was disabled. Simply turning off the computer and re-booting would have solved that. When I did call my IT guy a few days later – way too later – he simply said, “Oh yeah. We get 1 or 2 of those calls a day.” He reminded me that his cell phone number is on the shop’s voice mail; I could have checked with him on a Sunday.

I could have checked with my tech assistant first thing Monday morning and she would have reminded me that my computer already has some pretty hack-proof security and I could have canceled payment immediately. (My bank would have honored the fraud claim; still working on that.)

So, in retrospect, I have to ask myself – why was I so stubborn, thinking I could handle this myself when I know I’m incredibly naïve about all things digital?  Embarrassment at facing how gullible – vulnerable – stupid I was? (No one judged or shamed me in any way; this was all my own inner critic.)

I am gullible, if gullible means wanting to trust most people most of the time.  My car mechanic who, doing a simple oil change, discovered the suspension system in my 15 year old car was rusting out and needed to be replaced. ($$$) My dentist who, during a regular teeth cleaning, discovered an old filling had worn away and needed to be replaced. ($$$) My gardener who, in cutting down ivy and trees on the order of the fire department as a precaution against wildfires, discovered the old fence had rotted away and needed to be replaced. ($$$)

I’m learning it’s wise to trust people I have worked with for years. (See how to avoid scams and fraud from AARP.) And maybe after years of priding myself on living independently, even adventurously, to realize that “Okay. I’ll do it myself!” is not the only, nor always the best, strategy for navigating life.

Next lesson: push back quickly on the inner critic. I had been teaching a webinar series for most of October on Retiring the Inner Critic. Perhaps that gave me permission to say NO to the blaming judgments and negative self-talk right away.  I did have a choice and I did have some skills to not go down that rabbit hole but to stay conscious and compassionate.  “I’m a human being. I’m not the only person on the planet who made this mistake today. This is probably not the only mistake I will make today. I’m doing the best I can, and that is good enough.”

And fairly quickly I had the thought, “I’ll be over this 5 years from now.  Why not start getting over it right now?”  Replacing criticism with compassion so I could learn the lessons. 

Going forward with new perspective. In the two days it took for my computer guys to completely clean my computer, removing anything the hackers might have implanted in there, and re-load all my programs, documents, emails, etc., my clients valiantly met by Facetime on our phones (deep bows!) and I retrieved my computer in time to do the next webinar on retiring the inner critic. So, gratitude, always gratitude. 

Sometimes I go about in pity for myself, and all the while a great wind carries me across the sky.

– Attributed to Ojibwe Native American nation

And perspective.  Not that being scammed is a bump on a pickle. But there are lessons to be learned. And there can be resilience in the courage and willingness to learn the lessons, and to learn that I can.

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