If you have been having issues with people telling you they've received strange emails from you, you've probably been hacked. Or maybe you have been one of the victims to the recent email hacking similar to the AOL incident. You could also be receiving bounced emails from addresses you haven't heard of. Modified settings or an inability to log in are other signs you might be a victim of ID theft. If that's the case, you need to take immediate action. Let's have a look at what to do.
Getting antivirus software is the best starting point when you suspect your email has been hacked. If you already have antivirus software, then you can skip this step. If you don't, pay close attention. If there is no program protecting your computer, malware and viruses might be present. They might be spying on everything you do, including the passwords you write in for your accounts. Even if you solve the problem with your email, these programs will continue to steal information from you. The solution is good antivirus software. It will eliminate any unwanted programs and protect you from future invasion.
If this isn't an issue for you, then move to the next step. If it is, then stay calm. All types of email addresses have an option in case your account has been hacked. For some, you have to press a button indicating that your password doesn't work. For others, there's an option called "My account has been compromised." Whatever it is, click on it. You will usually be asked to answer your security questions. If not, an email will be sent to the alternative account you've submitted. Answer your security questions or go to the other email address and click on the link. From here, you should be able to submit a new password.
Log in to your account and check the settings. It is possible that an email has been added, where notifications of any changes you make are sent. Also, a signature might have been added. Change all these settings back to what they were before. If you didn't have an issue with your password, then changing it now is a good idea. Ensure that you do this after you've changed the settings.
Even if you've regained control over your email, you should still let your contacts know what happened. Send them a quick email explaining that you've had some problems with your account, but you've fixed them. It might be a good idea to ask for their help in the future. Ask them to tell you if they get any strange emails from your account again. This way, you will be informed if you've been successful in restoring your account.
Even after you've solved the problem, you should do your best to make sure that it doesn't happen in the future. Create two extra email addresses. One of them will be used to get help from your email provider in case of future identity theft. The other one should be used for signing up for newsletters and other things like that. The original address should be kept for business purposes. The reason is that most of your contacts are already familiar with that one.
If you follow these simple steps, you'll get your email back in no time. However, taking precautions in the future is a great idea. Don't post your email address where lots of people can see it. Every time you sign up for a service, use one of the two newly created addresses. Also, never log in to your email from a public computer. Keep these tips in mind and you'll be safe from future problems.