5 steps to take after your email gets hacked

unlocked emailBe warned, the Internet bad guys are out in full force. In the past 48 hours, I’ve had a bunch of people come to me saying their email accounts were hacked.

While there are steps you can take to prevent this from happening, I’ll have to get to this next week. The more urgent question, especially for those who have recently fallen victim, is what to do when it happens.

Thankfully, there are steps you can take to get back control of your email account. The trick is to act fast. It doesn’t take hackers long to do some serious damage.

Here are five things to do after your email gets hacked.

  1. Change your password immediately. The hackers somehow found out your password and were able to hack into your email account. This enabled them to do whatever they wanted, which was to spam your contact list. What you have to do is prevent them from getting back in. Changing your password is like changing the locks on your doors after you’ve been robbed.
  2. Change your secret questions and answers. These are the questions your email provider will ask you in order to identify that you are in fact you. When the hackers were snooping around your account, they could easily have noted your answers. This means they can sneak back in and take over your email account again.
  3. Change passwords on your other accounts. If you’re like a lot of people, you may keep password information in a folder in your email inbox or folder. (I’ve seen some people who actually have a folder named passwords. That makes it really easy for the bad guys.) Here’s what I want you to do: go into your email and search for the words password and account information. Find the emails that contain login information to any of your accounts. Now, go into those accounts and change all those passwords. This is really important. You don’t want your hacking misery to spread to other areas of your life.
  4. Inform your contacts. Send out an email to your contact list telling them your email was hacked and to ignore suspicious looking emails from you. Apologize and outline the steps you’re taking to ensure this won’t happen again. Most of us have received spam emails and we’re getting better at ignoring and deleting them. But an apology goes a long way, especially for your clients.
  5. Do some detective work. Go into your sent and delete folders. You might be able to see what type of emails the hackers were sending. If you’re lucky they were only taking your email address out for a joy ride. However, if they were trying to swindle money out of your contacts or smear your reputation with inappropriate messages, then it’s time to go into damage control and contact those people right away. I’d recommend doing this by phone rather than email.

Following these five steps should get you back in the driver’s seat of your email account. It’s no fun to get hacked, but knowing the steps to take after it happens will give you a sense of security again.

In next week’s blog I’ll talk about how to prevent getting hacked.

Have you had your email hacked? If so, what did you do to recover? Continue the conversation by leaving your comments in the box below.

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