Hackers Target Online Trading App Accounts, but Consumers Can Protect Themselves

NBC Universal, Inc.

Hackers are increasingly targeting users of trading apps in attempts to steal money, but consumers can take steps to protect their online investments.

Frank Czuprynski of suburban Crestwood describes himself as an amateur investor who has used the popular Robinhood app for about four years.

“It’s very easy to navigate and, yes, I’ve been able to make some money using it,” Czuprynski said.

But he said he felt powerless when someone recently hacked into his Robinhood account and stole about $5,000 of his hard-earned money.

“All my information had been changed on my account, so I was completely unable to access it or stop it and then I couldn’t get a hold of anybody to help me,” Czuprynski said.

According to Czuprynski, there was no phone number to call and it took hours for Robinhood to respond to him after he contacted them via social media.

“Basically, they should have just provided some customer service and, you know, told me they’re working on it, tell me what happened,” Czuprynski said.

Robinhood said if it believes a customer is a victim of identity theft, it takes steps to block any activity, close the account and notify law enforcement as appropriate.  The company also said it covers 100% of direct losses due to unauthorized activity in customers’ accounts.

The company said over the past year, it has accelerated its investments in customer support and it is expanding live phone support.

Chris Kanich, University of Illinois-Chicago assistant professor of computer science, said cyber criminals want to get into online trading app accounts to make a quick buck.

“It really is worth it to do things like invest in a password manager, make sure you don’t have any weak passwords,” Kanich said.  “Use two factor authentication, especially on things like your primary email account.”

Czuprynski said Robinhood has lifted the restriction on his account and replaced the stolen money. However, Czuprynski said during the time that he was unable to access his account, he lost money due to market volatility.

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