Toowoomba business owner devastated after online hack
A TOOWOOMBA woman has been left devastated after her main business platform was hacked.
Alex Stalling started Deer and Fox Collective seven years ago, selling her original handmade pieces for adults and children.
Ms Stalling creates and sells earrings, peg dolls, bibs, hair accessories, bags and prints.
It is an online business with Ms Stalling also attending markets on occasion.
These days businesses, and particularly those that operate solely online, rely on social media pages to build up their customer base.
Ms Stalling has spent the past seven years building up her Facebook page, VIP Facebook group, Instagram and mailing list.
But on Saturday her Facebook page was hacked where she lost all access to her account and 3200 followers.
"Our Facebook page was our foundation, where over 80% of our conversations came from," she said.
"Through Facebook I was able to build a business, a supportive network of customers and friends that allowed me to turn my creativity into a career that enables me to support my young family."
She said the hack happened very quickly, before she even had a chance to realise the severity.
Ms Stalling was at a wedding when Facebook sent her a message saying there was suspicious activity on her account.
She tried dealing with it quickly, by logging out and changing passwords but the next day she realised it wasn't enough.
"My page was gone, I was logged out," she said.
"I started to panic, contacted Facebook and that's when it all sunk in.
"Seven years of late nights, financial commitments, audience building and branding was stolen.
"I started going through all of my accounts, changing every password, logging out of everything.
"Through the business manager they didn't just have my page but my financial information, business details and many other personal details I had to quickly cancel, delete and update."
Ms Stalling said when it happened she couldn't help but cry.
"Although it may just be a digital platform, it is also my shop front, my catalogue, my business portfolio and it was gone in moments," she said.
"It is a huge hit to my income stream at the busiest time of year. Anyone in retail knows how much of an annual income is made leading up to Christmas."
Ms Stalling has created a new Facebook page called Deer and Fox Collective and already 800 people have jumped on, followed and are now supporting her.
"I am truly amazed by the support I have received from my customers, businesses and people who have just heard about what has happened and decided to help," she said.
She said she wanted to make others aware of what could happen to them.
"My biggest advice to anyone including business owners is take cyber security seriously. Even if you feel like you are a little guy doing a little thing in a big pond, they don't care."
Follow The Deer and Fox Collective on Facebook.
Facebook is currently investigating the incident.