Scammers look to take an advantage whenever they can and a popular method is to take over an email account. This can be very unnerving, but it’s important to take action immediately after you recognize that your email account has been hacked. Follow these steps to get your email account back in order:
It’s crucial to change your password immediately. Fraudsters may have cracked your previous password and now have it. Changing it prevents them from getting back in. The more complex the password, the better. Use a mix of numbers, letters, and special characters to strengthen your password as much as possible. Be sure to avoid passwords that are easy to guess such as “password” or “email123”. Make sure to change the password of any accounts that use the compromised password as well.
Setup Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA)
An MFA provides a second layer of security when attempting to access your email account by sending a unique token to your phone via text or a downloaded app with every login. This means that obtaining a password is no longer enough to compromise an email account.
Check Registered and/or Active Devices
This will show device type, operating system, and approximate geo-location of all registered and active devices that access your account. If you see any devices that you don’t recognize (such as your own mobile phone or laptop) delete it.
Empty Your Deleted Folder
Moving a message to your email account’s trash bin only moves it to another folder. Take the extra step to permanently delete the email.
Look for New Folders
Fraudsters like to create new email folders and have messages directly routed to that folder. This allows fraudsters to communicate with individuals using your legitimate email address, unbeknownst to you.
Check your “sent”, “deleted”, template, or unused email folders frequently for any unusual messages from your account. This can be a critical exercise to discover fraudulent activity in your email account.
Review Email Forwarding Settings
Popular email providers allow email copies to be forwarded to another email address. It’s even possible to have an original email deleted from the original inbox. Check your account settings to see if any of these have been enabled.