You wake up one rainy morning and after checking on your accounts you find out that you’ve been ‘wiped-out’ by a cybercriminal. You’ve lost all of the money and assets that you’ve ever owned and you can’t get them back. What will you do?
What a nightmare scenario! Saving Ninja certainly likes to post pretty dark thought experiments (here’s a response to a previous one, you’ve got 10 years left to live).
The good thing is that I wouldn’t lose too many of my ‘assets’.
God bless regulations
Firstly, I don’t think it’s physically possible to ‘lose’ my house. I still have the title and I haven’t physically signed anything. So it seems reasonable to say I’ve still got my home.
Second, my pension might have been cleaned out. But only through a transfer (or something illegal). In the former, I can cancel any transfer within 30 days due to FCA cooling off regs. So that’s my pension saved. With the later, I might be in line for some whopping compensation from my pension providers.
Similarly, I can cancel any ISA transfer within 14 days. So if any transfer can be cancelled. I’d be notified of any attempts to sell assets or withdraw cash to my bank account. A quick call to my brokers would stop all that. Again, a change to the nominated bank account would be flagged. So I would spot it before my ISA got emptied.
All this left me with a great appreciation of all the regulations we have in the UK. In short, even if things went really bad, there are lots of checks and controls which would make it more of a painful inconvenience than a ‘start from scratch’ type affair.
I’d assume my bank accounts would be cleaned out and my credit cards maxed out. Thankfully, I don’t have too high credit limits. So we’ve got some semblance of damage control.
Again, the regs are a big boon. I’d likely get all my money back eventually. (And given I got ‘locked out’ of one of my accounts the other week for trying to buy some flights, I assume it would be pretty tough to clean me out).
I also have one ‘dumb’ credit card that I’ve never used online. Unless they physically stole the credit card I don’t see how they could get to that one. So that leaves me with a bit of money to cover the essentials.
It’d leave me needing to cover my cash deficit in the short-term. So I’d have to sweat my assets a bit:
- My house asset: Rent out the spare bedrooms in my house via Airbnb or Gumtree. That’d be some nice tax-free cash given Rent A Room Relief. I could potentially get a ‘quick’ remortgage to get at some of the equity in the house (potentially within 4 weeks).
- My brain asset: I can sell some of my time to people. I could do some accountancy or financial planning work.
- My network asset: I have lots of lovely friends and family and I’m sure they wouldn’t mind lending me some cash to tide me over in the short-term. This actually happened to me once before where my bank shut down my account due to suspected fraud. I couldn’t get any money out for a week. My friends lent me some cash. And I learnt my lesson not to go with one bank. I quickly opened a second bank account.
- My wife asset: Definitely the most valuable thing I own (I’m joking…) My wife earns a pretty decent wedge, so once we’ve reached pay-day, we’d likely be ok. Perhaps more importantly, she’d be huge emotional support for me.
- Guinea Pig assets… I could even get my guinea pigs working to make me some sweet cash.
Feels a bit like cheating
Once I got to the end of my ‘plan’, I felt like I cheated a bit. I haven’t ‘lost’ very much. That’s despite Saving Ninja saying I had lost everything. But thinking about it, I look at my biggest assets and those aren’t vulnerable to a cyberhacker (house, brain, network and, of course, Mrs YFG). But they are of course vulnerable to other things (I think mainly me being a d*ck).
That’s why financial protection is so important. Between diversification, insurance, regulations and being a decent person(?) this particular scenario can be mitigated to a great extent.
That said, I feel immensely grateful as a lot of people don’t have these assets. They aren’t married. They don’t own their home. They might have no qualifications or skills. They might have no family or friends, or any family and friends with the ability to help them.
So despite being a gloomy scenario to begin with, I’ve finished feeling quite sanguine. I’m a very fortunate man indeed.
All the best,
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