What to do when your email is hacked

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Better Business Bureau column

By Cathy Williamson

Has your email account been hacked? We are hearing more and more about hacked email accounts, in which individual’s accounts are being hijacked by scammers and used to send spam to victims’ contacts.

Getting hacked can happen to anyone.

First, the scammer needs your email address, which is easy. You may have given it to the scammer without knowing, because your email address is on hundreds or thousands of messages you send out and those emails often are circulated. Also, email addresses are easy to guess – first name, last name, etc.

Next, the scammer needs your password. The scammer can guess it, hack into your computer or company computers to get it. It’s also possible you clicked on a link that installed malware on your computer.

There are ways to tell if you have been hacked.

Often, you will hear from people in your contacts list that they received a strange email from you.

Check your “sent” folder to see if there are messages there that you did not send.

Check to see if there are posts on your social networking account that you did not write.

What do you do if you have been hacked?

  • Check for malware on your computer, and get rid of it by running internet security software.
  • Change your passwords, and only use strong passwords. Don’t use the same passwords for different sites.
  • Check with your email provider and social networking site for guidance on restoring your account.
  • Check your account settings and set them to be more secure.
  • Tell your contacts what happened as soon as you can.

For more tips, go to www.bbb.org or call 1-800-388-2222.

Cathy Williamson is manager of the Lincoln Trail Area branch of the Better Business Bureau. She can be reached at 270-982-1289 or cwilliamson@bbbkyin.org.