Identity theft is a general term for a huge, terrible problem that affects millions of people per year. It happens when someone steals your personal information to obtain goods and services. The thieves can harm your finances and your credit, and even nullify official, hard-to-replace documents. Worse still, some costs may not be recoverable unless you have a comprehensive identity theft protection plan. And identity theft can sometimes take months to resolve.
Identity thieves don’t need much to steal your information. One of their favorite methods is to hack your email address. Once they’ve gained entry to your personal files via your email, they can wreak havoc with the private information they find there.
Do you want to know how to find out if someone has hacked your email? And what can you do when your email is hacked? We’ve got some helpful answers to these important questions, so read on to get the scoop!
Why do hackers target your email?
Your email account contains a wealth of your private details. If the hackers can pretend to be you, they can find out your other email addresses, passwords, and other important account info.
Online account access
Hackers want nothing more than to gain access to all your private accounts so they can wreak havoc on your finances, identity, medical information and more. They will work to hack into your social media sites, banking accounts, medical records and more.
Sometimes, a hacker will hold your accounts hostage. They may do this so that you will pay money in exchange for the safe return of your privacy. Other times, they may want to release some condemning private information about you that they obtain from your hacked accounts.
How do hackers access your email?
We’ve all heard about big-news data breaches exposing the information of millions of helpless victims with one blow. During a data breach, a hacker will break into a database to steal and sell or use the identifying info held in those databases.
Hackers will sometimes send out emails that look legitimate, but which contain malicious links that will reveal your information or download malware when you click them. If you ever receive an email that makes you raise an eyebrow, contact the sender directly to ask if they really sent it.
Let’s face it: We’re all tempted to reuse the same password for several different accounts. It’s easy for us to remember; and it’s easy for a hacker to discover as well. Once a hacker has gained your password, they can use it across all your other accounts to break into those as well.
Can hackers read your email without you knowing?
Unfortunately, yes. If a hacker has gained access to your email, that means they can view and read all the information contained there.
Signs your email has been hacked
Unusual IP addresses or devices
You probably receive security email messages when you sign into your account on a new device. Well, if you receive one of these messages stating that your account was recently accessed on a device or from a location that you don’t recognize, this is a big sign that hackers are logging in from somewhere else.
Spam emails sent to your contacts
Check your “Sent” folder in your email account. Do you see many emails that you don’t remember sending? Perhaps several of your contacts message you, asking why you sent them a certain email that you know you didn’t send. If so, hackers have been trying to lure your friends and family into clicking spam emails that were supposedly sent by “you.”
Unusual emails in your inbox
The hacker may have signed up to receive emails in your name. If this is the case, you will start finding these unknown emails in your inbox.
Account reset emails that you didn’t request
Do you suddenly see emails from your social media accounts or other official accounts, claiming that you recently requested a password reset? If you didn’t try to reset your accounts, but you still receive these emails, it may mean that a hacker is trying to gain access to your accounts instead.
Sometimes, the hacker will succeed in resetting your accounts. Then when you try to log into your accounts, you won’t be able to – because the hacker changed your passwords.
How to remove a hacker from your email
If you find out a hacker has accessed your email, your first reaction may be to panic. But take a deep breath. There are several steps you can walk through to remove hackers from your email and help yourself feel more secure.
Up your security
Change your passwords
If a hacker is trying to stick their nose into your business, push them back out by changing your passwords. Use unique, complex passwords for each account.
Enable two-factor authentication
Two-factor authentication means that when you (or a hacker) logs into your account, you will receive a text message requesting further verification before your account can be accessed. Whether it is you or a hacker trying to sign in, two-factor authentication lets you control the outcome a bit better.
Confirm your account recovery information
Account recovery info includes a secondary email address or phone number in case you get locked out of your account. It is also helpful if a hacker is using your account because you can regain control of your email.
Change your security questions
We’ve all had security questions like “What was the name of your first pet?” or “Where did you and your partner meet?” If you think a hacker has changed these questions, it’s time for you to select a new set of security questions and answers.
Consider creating a new account
If you are unable or don’t wish to take these steps of removing a hacker from your current email, it’s time to create a new account instead. Make sure you use a completely new set of information, such as account names, passwords, security questions and more.
Email hacking prevention tips
For obvious reasons, it’s ideal to keep hackers out of your email accounts in the first place. Fortunately, you have several tools at your disposal to help protect your accounts, your information, and yourself.
Always choose a strong password
We can’t state it enough: It is imperative that you create unique, complex passwords for each of your accounts. Make sure to include numbers, upper- and lower-case letters, symbols, and perhaps even full sentences including all of these characters.
Avoid insecure Wi-Fi and computers
It’s fun to log into the free Wi-Fi at your local coffee shop. You also might enjoy using the computers at your local library or school campus. However, hackers watch these insecure connections so they can scoop private info from unsuspecting Internet users. It’s best to avoid using these tools altogether. If you must, you can use a Virtual Private Network (VPN) to secure your connection.
Don’t open suspicious emails or attachments
If you see an unfamiliar email address in your inbox, don’t click on it. Similarly, if you have opened an email and see a prompt to click a link to an unknown website, avoid clicking that as well. When in doubt, don’t click!
Protect your personal information with IDShield
Think about all the separate accounts you have on the internet. What would you do if these accounts were to be hacked and used for nefarious purposes? You don’t have to fight hackers and identity theft alone!
IDShield helps protect you from all sides. We can extensively monitor many different kinds of online accounts and alert you if we see suspicious activity. We find where your data is public online; we also help locate old accounts associated with your email address. We provide extensive walk-through settings guides for the top 20+ sites which might have your data. Our Consultation and Restoration Specialists can answer questions and help you with identity protection, reputation management and more.
Find out more about how IDShield can help protect your information today!
IDShield is a product of Pre-Paid Legal Services, Inc. d/b/a LegalShield (“LegalShield”). LegalShield provides access to identity theft protection and restoration services. IDShield plans are available at individual or family rates. For complete terms, coverage, and conditions, please see an identity theft plan. This is meant to provide general information and is not intended to provide legal or tax advice, render an opinion, or provide any specific recommendations.