It can be scary finding out that a scammer has stolen your email address, whether it’s your personal or work address.
Sadly, there are many ways scammers and hackers can source their victims’ email addresses, including buying them from data providers or the dark web, email harvesting, social engineering, fake websites or social media.
Once they have gained access to your email address, they can steal your identity and hurt not only your identity but your credit.
So, what happens if scammers have your email address? What are the signs your email account has got hacked? Here’s the answers to the questions you have if you suspect a scammer has your email address.
How Can Scammers Use My Email Address?
While your email address might not seem that valuable, scammers can extract a lot of information that they can use against you. Below are some things they can do with your email address information:
Scammers Can Impersonate You
Experts always recommend not to open emails sent to you by unknown parties. But hackers have found a way around this tip. After hacking your email accounts, they can use the account to impersonate you and contact your family members or friends.
They can trick them into believing you’re in big trouble and need financial aid. Others can send your contacts malicious links. Because of this, it’s important to take caution when opening an email, even if the email comes from your friend.
If you suspect the email is suspicious, contact them via social media or phone and confirm if they sent the message to you.
Send Phishing Emails
If a hacker has your email address, he has half of your confidential information – all that’s remaining is your password. And they can gain that by sending you a phishing email saying that your account has been accessed from a new device or compromised.
The moment you change your password, they can gain full access to your account.
Scammers Can Access Your Online Accounts
Most people use their email account address to log in to their social media channels, Google Docs, online stores and more. To avoid forgetting their password, you might use the same password multiple times. That means if hackers gain your email account logins, they can get into all your online accounts.
Even if you don’t use the same password, they can still click “forgot password” and use the link to reset and change the password to access your online account.
How to Protect Your Email Address from Scammers?
A lot of your information can get compromised when your email account gets hacked. Luckily, there are several steps you can take to protect your email address, including the following.
Using Robust Passwords
Whether or not your email account has been hacked, it’s wise to create strong passwords that hackers cannot guess. Another thing, avoid using the same password for your other online accounts.
Set Up Multi-Factor Authentication
When updating your email account password and passwords for other online accounts, enable multi-factor authentication. That means the hacker can also need a random code created by an authenticator app besides your password to access your accounts.
Update Your Device Security Software
The best way to protect your email address from getting hacked is to update your device’s security software. Ensure the software is from a reputable provider. After the update, scan your device and even email inbox for malware and delete them.
Enable Dark Web Monitoring
Most hackers usually sell stolen email addresses and other personally identifiable information on the dark web. Individuals who purchase these details can use them to blackmail you or steal your identity.
If you have dark web monitoring, you can receive alerts once your stolen information lands on the dark web. From there, you can take the necessary steps to help avoid falling victim to identity theft.
Signs Your Email Account Has Been Hacked
If you suspect a scammer has hacked your email account, below are some signs to help you confirm your suspicion.
1. You can’t log in to your account
When a hacker gains access to your account, the first thing they can do is change your password to restrict your access. If this is the case, chances are the hacker has locked you out of your own account.
2. Strange messages pop up on your social media accounts
If your recent Facebook and Instagram posts promote a product you have never purchased or promoted, someone has gained access to your email address and social media accounts.
3. Your family members or friends are receiving emails you didn’t send.
If you receive information from family members or friends that they are receiving messages from you, yet you didn’t send them, your email address has been hacked.
4. Your sent-message folder contains spammy messages you don’t remember writing.
If your send folder contains messages you didn’t send or your folder is empty, yet you have not deleted anything recently, your email address is vulnerable.
How to Help Recover Your Email Account from a Scammer
- If you can still access your account, change your login credentials immediately.
- Inform your friends and family members about the hack so they don’t fall for the scams sent by the hackers.
- Contact your banks and credit providers if you have sensitive financial information in your inbox. They can help prevent unauthorized access to your account.
- Seek the help of an identity and credit monitoring service like IdentityIQ to help protect you. This service can provide real-time fraud and Social Security number alerts, dark web and internet monitoring and even identity theft insurance. Plus, protection plans are affordable.
- If you’re completely locked out of your account, contact your email provider for advice on how to recover and protect your account.
If your email account gets hacked, it’s not the end of that account. You can still recover your account. However, prevention is always better than the cure.