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What Do I Do If My Email Gets Hacked?

What to Do After Your Email Account Gets Hacked

I've mentioned before that I've left a few old email addresses open after switching to a new mail program, and most of you admitted to doing the same. Well, here's one reason you (and I) might want to reconsider that stance. An old email address I left open and checked once a week or so was hacked, and for three days sent spammy messages to all of the contacts in my address book.

Since I hadn't given that address out in years, I hadn't talked to many of the spam recipients for quite a while. Finally yesterday, a friend sent me a message on Facebook to let me know about the spam. I was mortified! Find out what I did next, and learn what steps you should take if your email address gets hacked after the break.

  • Change the password: The first line of defense against hackers is a solid password. Turns out, mine was pretty lame. Here are a few tips on how to pick a good one so this doesn't happen to you.
  • Check your other accounts: I know that sometimes it's easy to remember just one password, but if you've used the same password on multiple accounts (say Facebook, Twitter, and heaven forbid, your bank account) then you'll want to change those as well as soon as possible.
  • Delete old accounts: Although it may be fun to sign into the MySpace profile you haven't used in six months, go ahead and dump it — it's just begging to get hacked. Use a few of these handy websites that will help you find old profiles and accounts you may have forgotten about to keep your hacker liability low.
  • Send an apology: Even if you haven't corresponded to the poor people you've spammed in months (or years!), sending a mass email (at the least) will help smooth things over. No one likes finding spam in their inbox, especially when it's from an old friend.
  • Pay it forward: It's embarrassing enough finding out that you've been unknowingly spamming your friends and colleagues, so if you ever get spam from a friend, contact them immediately to help them minimize the damage.

Have you been in this situation before? How did you handle it?

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Join The Conversation
cheekyredhead cheekyredhead 5 years
Someone stole my Twitter Account. I had created it and pretty much abandoned it...only used it to send more people to my wordpress blog. The problem is that whoever hacked it changed the password AND then commenced to sending really horrific tweets. They were SO off-base that friends knew immediately that the tweets were obviously not from ME...so my embarrassment is mainly because I lost control over something I felt was "mine" and now it isn't. While that was and is embarrassing I have no way of stopping it until Twitter responds to my message. I encouraged everyone who followed me there to simply "unfollow me" ... which is sad. Facebook---someone simply stole EVERY follower. Seriously...over 3000 fans/friends evaporated in 6hrs. Facebook doesn't care. They have done absolutely nothing about it. I keep getting automatic messages that say "The problem you encountered has been fixed"
cheekyredhead cheekyredhead 5 years
Someone stole my Twitter Account. I had created it and pretty much abandoned it...only used it to send more people to my wordpress blog. The problem is that whoever hacked it changed the password AND then commenced to sending really horrific tweets. They were SO off-base that friends knew immediately that the tweets were obviously not from ME...so my embarrassment is mainly because I lost control over something I felt was "mine" and now it isn't. While that was and is embarrassing I have no way of stopping it until Twitter responds to my message. I encouraged everyone who followed me there to simply "unfollow me" ... which is sad.Facebook---someone simply stole EVERY follower. Seriously...over 3000 fans/friends evaporated in 6hrs. Facebook doesn't care. They have done absolutely nothing about it. I keep getting automatic messages that say "The problem you encountered has been fixed"
EricaJane EricaJane 5 years
this just happened to me this week, only when it was hacked, the password was changed. I have been waiting for a response to help me figure out how to get back in, but until I do, i have no idea who was in that old contact list...
KadBunny KadBunny 5 years
Yes, but on Facebook. :( This person spammed every single one of my 189 friends. I was mortified. Since fb has no way to send a mass message to all your friends, in a panic, I made a group with a big fat I'M SORRY and invited them all :P I let it rest for a day then disappeared. I'm still embarrassed to death.
KadBunny KadBunny 5 years
Yes, but on Facebook. :( This person spammed every single one of my 189 friends. I was mortified. Since fb has no way to send a mass message to all your friends, in a panic, I made a group with a big fat I'M SORRY and invited them all :P I let it rest for a day then disappeared. I'm still embarrassed to death.
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