If your Hotmail, Gmail or Yahoo password is hacked, you need to do more than just change the password
It seems like a lot of people’s online email accounts are getting hacked these days, with no clear indication of how the hackers are obtaining passwords. If you suspect or know your account has been hacked, change your password. If you haven’t changed your password within 30 days of this post, change it now – just in case hackers already have your password but haven’t used it yet. There are some other things you may want to consider doing as well:
1. Change your security question and/or the answer to the question. Don’t make the answer something that can be successfully guessed. If possible, make the answer so obscure, that it’s impossible to guess. For favorite color, for example, don’t use the primary colors. Use something like “ripe tomato” for red, “banana boat” for yellow or “Mountain Berry Blast” for blue. Don’t use a question that can be answered by viewing your Facebook or blog page.
2. Verify that your password recovery alternate email address is correct and has not been changed. Change the password of the alternate email account if it is on Hotmail, Gmail or Yahoo.
3. If you forward your email, make sure the forwarding email address hasn’t changed. If you don’t forward your email, make sure forwarding isn’t enabled.
4. Check your Sent email folder for email you didn’t author. It’s easy enough for a hacker to delete sent messages after spamming your contact list, but check anyway.
5. Check your contact list for anyone you don’t know.
6. Email your contact list and let everyone know your email account password was compromised. Let them know when the unauthorized access occurred (or best guess) and tell them to send you any emails they received from you since that time.
What bothers me the most about all of this, is how difficult it is for someone to report a compromise to these online email hosting companies. There is no obvious link or email address that I can see posted within any of the three email applications. Why make it hard for people to report something this important?