How To See If Your Email Has Been Hacked
Whether its a personal email or a business account, getting your email hacked is a scary possibility. Hackers can quickly gain access to anything youve sent like passwords, account numbers, or bank information plus, they could use your account to send viruses to other computers, and then hack them.
In this three-part series, we discuss how to determine if youve been hacked, how to report the hackers and get them out of your accounts, and finally, how to protect against them in the future.
To start, how do you know if your email has been hacked? A first hint is if someone in your contacts informs you that they received a strange email from you. Ask them to send you a photo of it. If you dont recognize it, youve been hacked.
Lets do some detective work. Has your password been changed but you dont remember doing it? Thats a problem. The first thing a hacker typically does is change your passwords and change the contact email so you cant get back into your account.
Open your email app and look over your messages. Pay attention to the read/unread status to see if any messages have been read that you dont remember reading. Look in the sent folder to see if theres anything you did not sent. Deleted emails can also give you clues. Also look to see if there are any password reset request emails for different websites that you dont remember sending. The hacker could be trying to get into your other accounts.
Recover A Hacked Gmail Account
The following steps will help you recover a hacked Gmail account if you cant log in because a hacker has changed your password.
Log into your hacked Gmail account
Follow when answering to ensure the best results.
Review your Gmail account activity
Go to and click Security on the left menu.
Click Review security events in the Recent security events box.
If you see any events you dont recognize, click No, it wasnt me and follow the instructions.
If you recognize an event as yours, click Yes.
Review your Gmail accounts device activity
Open and choose Security from the menu on the left.
Scroll down to the Your devices box and click Manage devices.
Click Dont recognize a device? for any unknown devices, then follow the instructions.
Signs Your Gmail Is Hacked
Google is continuously improving its services. That includes detecting malicious activities in your account. There are a few signs that you should look out. Make sure that you check your inbox if there’s a notification of unusual logins.
Gmail will also notify you if there’s an attempt to change your username and password. You may also receive a warning from Gmail like “We’ve detected suspicious activity on your account.”
Lastly, an increased activity of spam coming from your Gmail account is a tell-tale sign. Sometimes, you’ll stop receiving emails altogether. Or, you’ll receive emails that you are not expecting.
After receiving any of these notifications, do the following steps to make sure that hackers do not have access to your Gmail account.
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Notify People You Know
When youre considering what to do if your email is hacked, keep in mind youll have to protect your contact list as well. It is a good idea to tell your friends, family, and anyone else on your email contact list that you’ve been hacked.
During the period when attackers had control of your account, they could have sent dozens or even hundreds of malware-laden emails to everyone you know. This type of phishing attack in turn gives them access to a new set of victims.
You should notify your friend lists on other platforms as well. Email may be just one route the attackers take to bait your contacts. If they breached your social media or messaging apps, fraudulent messages could be sent from each of these.
Warning your contacts lets them take steps to ensure their own devices are clean and unaffected.
Consider Options For Your Id Defense
If you’ve been hacked, an ID authentication program is another idea worth considering. Usually, these platforms provide email and online account tracking in real-time. In the case of identity fraud, they also typically offer credit score reporting and personal assistance.
Be sure to look for businesses with a good track record, as this form of security is often associated with high costs.
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Run Antivirus And Clean Up Your Device
Its possible the attackers gained access through malware on your device. Be sure to run an antivirus scan to check for spyware, keyloggers, and other types of malware. Ensure your browsers and apps are up-to-date. Remove any third-party extensions or apps that you no longer need or use. If youre not regularly backing up your files and programs, now is the time to start.
Ways To Tell If Your Email Address Is At Risk
By compromising your email, hackers can access sensitive information in your accounts, even financial information. In the worst-case scenario, they can sure steal your identity, getting medical services and loans on your behalf, and ruining your credit score. There are tons of ways to determine whether your email has been breached, including an email search online.
This article explains the most common signs showing that your email has been hacked. Below you have 4 ways to find out whether your email has been compromised. Here they are:
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Youre Asked About Odd Emails
One of the first and best signals that your email account may have been compromised can come from your contacts list. If two or three different family members, friends, or work colleagues ask you about an odd email you sent them, this is a reliable indicator. They care about you and their account safety.
Many times the message they receive is a phishing email that might be asking for personal info or a request to review an attachment or link. Since your contacts know you, theyll often be able to tell that the wording looks suspicious.
If you think something is up, but have not had a friend or family member contact you, you can proactively ask if they have received any emails out of the ordinary. Theyre usually more than happy to check their email account especially in the case where their account might be at risk of receiving a compromised email.
Unfortunately, there is not an automated filter to prevent phishing emails from being sent out from your account. Most personal email systems do not have outbound detection.
What you can do: Add a unique and consistent email signature to every outbound email. Be sure to set this up so its included at the end of new and reply messages whether youre on desktop, laptop, tablet, or mobile. Most malware in a compromised account will not take the extra step to add your distinct email signature.
Signs That Your Email Or Social Media Account Has Been Hacked
You might have been hacked if
- your social media account has posts you didnt make
- you cant log into your email or social media account
- your Sent folder has messages you didnt send, or has been emptied
- friends and family are getting emails or messages you didnt send, sometimes with random links or fake pleas for help or money
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How Can I Tell If Someone Has Hacked Into My Email Account
The warning signs of an email hack all indicate that something is happening to your email without your control. If youre locked out of your Gmail inbox, for example, thats a strong sign that your Google account is hacked.
If youve been hacked, take recovery measures immediately. Heres a detailed look at the most common indicators that your email may be compromised.
If everythings normal on your email, but youre noticing strange behavior on your other apps, it may be that your phone was hacked rather than your email.
Follow Our Hacked Protocol
If you are certain that you have been hacked, you should follow our protocol:
After you get the full overview of the situation and secure all other online accounts, you can recover your hacked accounts. Go through your emails and see if you can find security alerts from the service youve lost access to. Often they give you an option to reset recent changes to your account.
Try to reset your hacked accounts password, using both the email option and the SMS option where applicable.
If that doesnt help, go to the services help portal and see if you can find a form to report a hacked account.
You can also try to contact the service directly if they have a phone number or support email.
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Is Text More Secure Than Email
Email Vs. Text. In short, email is still one of the most secure forms of online communication, although who it protects you from largely depends on how far you go to secure your own email. Ultimately the service provider has access to scan and archive your messages, WHETHER SENT VIA TEXT, email, or other routes.
Imap And Pop Settings
POP and IMAP are features offered by many email service provides that will allow you to access your email account from any third party application. The problem here is that any hacker can set up their email applications to receive all your emails if they get your password. It also means that they will be able to send emails using your email address.
Therefore, if you are not using IMAP or POP features, then its better to disable them. Also, if you notice any suspicious activity in your account, it means that someone is already using your account with POP or IMAP. In such cases reset your password to log out of all devices.
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Check Your Email Settings
Examine your email settings to check if anything has been changed. Look for:
- any copies of your messages forwarded to unknown addresses
- contacts in your address book you don’t remember adding
- new links in your email signature file
As a next step, tighten your security:
- Update the security questions and answers your email provider typically uses to confirm your identity when you’re going through the password recovery process.
- Add or update your recovery email a different email address that hasn’t been compromised, which you can use as a backup for your recovery information.
Scan Your Device For Malware
The hacker got your email address from somewhere. It may have been an online hack but it could also have been from your device. You should run periodic automatic scans as part of good computer hygiene and if you dont, now would be a good time to begin. Scan all of your devices fully for viruses and separately for malware.
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Run Your Antivirus Program
As noted by the FTC’s guide on hacked email, the first thing you should do if your account gets hacked is to run an end-to-end antivirus scan.
Skip the “quick scan” setting in favor of a deep scan to identify and eliminate not only all forms of malware and potentially unwanted applications.
Hackers don’t just want access to your account so they can send your friends embarrassing messages they’re looking for ways to scam you out of money or commit credit card fraud. For example, hackers target businesses that regularly send funds via wire transfer. Once an email account is compromised, they are able to send their own unauthorized transfers.
According to the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center, businesses saw an exposed loss of more than $747 million over the last two years, despite having network protection in place and IT staff on board.
When it comes to your email accounts, the sooner you run an antivirus scan, the better. It’s important to make sure you’re clean before you change any of your other sensitive information to avoid restarting the cycle.
Your Computer Was Also Recently Hacked
There are loads of malicious software floating around the Internet all operating systems, Windows, macOS, and Linux. In the normal course of using a desktop or laptop computer, youll likely need to install some software.
But, if youve recently installed new software or clicked attachments or links in emails that infected your computer, theres an increased risk that your email may also have been hacked.
What you can do: Here are a few security measures to take before you received malware.
- First, consider the security risk of installing the new software.
- Be sure to check the source of the software.
- Keep your operating system up to date.
- Ensure you have malware protection installed, updated, and activatedNote: Both Windows and macOS include malware/antivirus software. Make sure its active.
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Keep An Eye On Your Email Address
Have I Been Pwned monitors hacker sites and collects new data every five to 10 minutes about the latest data breaches and exposures. This includes your email address, usernames, passwords and other personal information.
Enter your email address and Have I Been Pwned will check to see if its been compromised in a data breach. If it has, youll see a list of sites that have exposed your data and what exactly was leaked.
You can click Notify me at the top of the page and Have I Been Pwned will alert you if your email address shows up in any list of hacked information going forward.
How To Report Suspicious Activity
You can also officially report scammers and any suspicious activity straight to the Federal Trade Commission using this link below:
How To Protect Yourself More
If you want to find out the most notorious scams on a regular basis, then subscribe to the Scam Detector newsletter. Youll receive weekly emails, no spam whatsoever.
Meanwhile, educate yourself with some other email fraud-related articles right under this paragraph, so that you know how to stay safe online. Last but not least, feel free to use the comments section below to expose other email scammers.
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