Q&A: What Do I Do if My Email Has Been Hacked?


Every morning, my email inbox is filled with spam from some of you lovely readers.  It’s been a lot worse than normal this week.  I try to reply to each one individually or will even answer random Facebook posts with the solution.  I decided to write this blog post so that you already have this information tucked away in case it happens to you!

What is hacking? The most common form of email hacking is when someone obtains your password and sends junk email to your contacts. 

How will I know I’ve been hacked? Your sent box will be full of messages you didn’t send.  Sometimes they will make their way back into your inbox as ‘undeliverable’.

How did they get MY password?  Hackers set up a software that will generate passwords in an attempt to access an account.  It’s not a personal attempt.

How do I fix it?  Luckily, the fix is simple.  Just log in and change your password.  Use something a little more complicated than your kid’s name or your birthday.  A collection of random letters, numbers, and symbols is the best.  The longer, the better!

Should I set up a new email account?  Unless this happens to you on a very regular basis (which I doubt), it’s not worth the hassle to set up a new account.  Even if you start a new one, your old one will continue to send out spam messages.

DO NOT TAKE YOUR COMPUTER INTO A SHOP TO HAVE THE ‘VIRUS’ REMOVED  I couldn’t tell you how many times someone has sent me an email apologizing for the hacking and that they have dropped it off at Office Depot to have a virus removed.  Two weeks later, I’ll get another one that tells me that they must have contracted another virus, because it’s happening again. 

If you’re using an online email client, such as hotmail, gmail, etc., there is no way a technician can remove this.  It’s a password issue with the email client.  However, it seems that many are more than happy to take your money for a virus removal!

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