If your email account has been hacked, the first thing to remember is to not panic. Second, you will need to take action to protect yourself from identity theft. Most people find out their email has been hacked after the account is taken over and an email is sent to all of their contacts, usually asking for money.
Some fraudsters’ missives contain elaborate stories noting that the victim is stranded in another country and needs a small loan to get back home. Never respond to these emails and certainly do not wire any money or give away any bank account information.
A recent CBS Money Watch article lists five must-do steps if your email is hacked. If you notice that your account has been hacked, take these steps:
1. Work fast. Once you recognize a problem, don’t hesitate a moment — the bad guys might be in the process of trying to deny you access to your account, so get to work quickly.
2. Change your password. Immediately change your e-mail account’s password. If you’re using Gmail, choose Mail Settings, Accounts and Imports, and then Change Password. If you’re on Hotmail, go to More Options, Account Details.
3. Verify the recovery address. This is where your e-mail provider sends your password reset information. If the bad guy has changed this setting, then he can request a password reset and immediately reclaim your account. Make sure the recovery address is set to an e-mail address you know and check. In Gmail, go to Mail Settings, Accounts and Imports, Change Password Recovery Options. In Hotmail, click More Options, Account Details.
4. Change your password hints. You might not think about this very often, but the hints can help someone suss out your password. Review them and make sure they’re oblique enough that only you know what they mean. In Gmail, you can find this at Mail Settings, Accounts and Imports, Change Password Recovery Options. In Hotmail, go to More Options, Account Details.
5. Change other passwords. Finally, don’t forget that once your mail has been compromised, all sorts of other accounts are at risk as well. As quickly as you can, be sure to change the password for other e-mail, financial, and personal accounts. And of course, never use the same password on more than one e-mail or financial institution account.