Your Email Was Hacked, Here's How To Fix It

If you’ve been hacked, take a breath and read our article to find out how to jump into action and re-secure your account.
We receive compensation from the products and services mentioned in this story, but the opinions are the author's own. Compensation may impact where offers appear. We have not included all available products or offers. Learn more about how we make money and our editorial policies.

If your email has been hacked, you should know that you aren’t alone. Even Twitter was hacked in early 2023, and 200 million user email addresses were leaked.[1] 

Email hacking is a cyberattack where a hacker gains access to your email account. When that happens, hackers can monitor your communications and use any of your information for malicious purposes. They can even steal your personal data and use it to access your bank accounts.

With internet hackers and scammers being so vicious and data breaches becoming so common, it takes more than a unique password to deter them these days. To keep your private information safe, you need to improve your cybersecurity. We’ll show you the best ways to protect your data and recover quickly if your email is breached, including using the best antivirus software and knowing how to spot a phishing email.

In this article
How do I know if my email has been hacked?
How to recover hacked email accounts
My email has been hacked, how do I fix it?
Tips to prevent email hacking
Hacked email FAQ
Bottom line

How do I know if my email has been hacked?

There are some not-so-subtle warning signs of a hacked email. Your friends or family members may even reach out asking if everything is okay because of strange messages that appear to have been sent by you. Let’s take a look at some of the main ways to tell if your email was hacked.

Your password doesn’t work

At first, this may seem like a natural event. If you don’t use a password manager, you may have numerous login credentials you need to remember. Go ahead and take a moment to think of all the online accounts you have, like online banking accounts, social media accounts, and, of course, email.

It’s easy to forget a password now and then, but hackers can change your information so that you can’t reset your password and regain access to your account.

Some of the best password managers are 1Password, NordPass, and Dashlane. LastPass is another popular option, but the company experienced two data breaches in 2022 that could cause concern.

There are odd emails in your account

Not all hackers will change your password. Some of them send phishing emails to your address. These emails can be links for password resets to trick you into downloading malware or releasing your private data. Also, you may look at your sent items and immediately realize you’ve been hacked because you’ll see messages you don’t recall sending. Hackers can use your email to send messages to your contacts impersonating you and asking for money, for example.

Contacts report receiving strange emails from you

We touched on this briefly, but you’ll quickly know if your email has been hacked when people report odd emails received from your account. For instance, the scammers might impersonate you and request money or access to private information as we’ve mentioned in the above section.

Hackers have learned how to be convincing to others. It could be embarrassing when one of your friends mentions sending you money because of hard times and you have no idea what your buddy is referring to.

Different IP addresses are in your details log

You may not know this, but when you log in to your account, some email providers log your IP address and location. This helps Google spot any suspicious activity, such as if you log in using a different mobile device.

To check the email log in Gmail, open your email account dashboard and look for the Details link in the bottom-right corner.

This shows you the locations your account was accessed from, including state and country. This information is based on the IP address that was logged when you or another user signed into your account.

The log also shows what date and time your account was accessed, as well as the device type.

You can view this log to see when you’ve used your email and if any unfamiliar locations or device types show up. You can also find your device IP addresses to see whether all those listed in the email log match.

How to recover hacked email accounts

Now that you know how to spot the problems, we’ll show you what to do if you’ve been hacked. There are immediate steps to take to mitigate the damage from hackers. If you follow these tips, you’ll recover much faster from an email breach.

1. Run antivirus software

The first step is to use a reliable antivirus program and run the Full Scan option. You don’t want to cut corners and use a Quick Scan if you’ve been hacked. A comprehensive scan can reveal all forms of malware, like Trojans or ransomware, keyloggers, and other viruses.

We tested dozens of antivirus programs and these three stood out from the rest:

  • TotalAV: With near-perfect protection scores and affordable plans, TotalAV is our top choice for an easy-to-use antivirus program. TotalAV also offers phishing protection with its WebShield feature so you can easily avoid unsafe websites and protect yourself against scams.

    Get TotalAV | Read Our TotalAV Review
  • McAfee: If you want more than antivirus protection, McAfee is worth a look. Along with excellent malware protection, it comes with a virtual private network (VPN), identity theft protection, browser security, and parental controls.

    Get McAfee | Read Our McAfee Review
  • Bitdefender: Real-time protection can help protect you against phishing attacks targeting your email account, and Bitdefender comes with some of the best real-time defenses. Its Advanced Threat Defense feature monitors apps and computer processes to spot malware and ransomware right away.

    Get Bitdefender | Read Our Bitdefender Review

2. Log out of all devices

If you’ve been hacked, log out of all your accounts on every device. This will prevent further damage until you can reset your passwords. You can usually do this once for all devices under your email security tab by selecting Manage all devices.

3. Change all passwords

You don’t want to keep any of your old passwords because you won’t know which one may have been breached. Steer clear of passwords that are obvious or easily guessed. And don’t use words like your dog’s name; anything personal is much simpler to penetrate.

Don’t forget to also update your privacy settings and password for other accounts that may have been compromised, such as your Facebook account or bank account.

4. Set up 2FA

Two-factor authentication provides an extra layer of protection by requiring verification beyond simple login credentials, like a generic username and password combination. Most email providers allow you to enable 2FA in your email settings, but you can also get an authenticator app for extra security.

5. Change your account recovery options

Gmail, Microsoft Outlook, and other popular email services allow you to set an email or phone number to use if you need to recover your account. In case the hacker also stole this information, it’s best to change your account recovery options to a new number or email.

My email has been hacked, how do I fix it?

If your email has been hacked, you want to cover all your bases. In addition to the steps above, here are a couple of other follow-up tips to know.

  • Check your other online accounts. If your email has been hacked, there’s a strong possibility that your other accounts have been breached too. You don’t want to wait and find out someone is using your debit or credit card. Your banking institution will make it right, but if you can avoid the hassle, you should.
  • Alert your contacts. Be sure your contacts know what has transpired so they can ignore any messages until you have things under control. An unsuspecting family member might take the bait and send money thinking you’re in need.
  • Contact law enforcement. You can and should report internet-related crimes to the appropriate law enforcement authorities. Contact your local federal investigative agency for the specific internet crime contact.
  • File a report. Use the Federal Trade Commission’s (FTC's) fraud alert link to report the crime. You can also use the IdentityTheft.gov link.

Tips to prevent email hacking

If you’ve ever been hacked, then you know how frustrating it is to undo the damage. Fortunately, here are some helpful tips to prevent email hacking so that it (hopefully) never happens again.

  • Use strong passwords. That means using something more complex than a nickname from high school that everyone may know. Secure passwords use a combination of upper- and lowercase letters, numbers, and symbols.
  • Set up security questions. Don’t skip those security questions. There are things only you know that help protect your account. Most new accounts will ask for these so use this safety protocol.
  • Avoid phishing emails. If you get an email that looks like it’s from a friend or company you know but is asking you to click a link or download an attachment, it could be an email scam. Don’t fall victim to those emails that ask you to verify your private data or request you to make a payment by clicking a link.
  • Use antivirus software. Antivirus software scans for malware, so it can remove viruses and other malicious programs before they have a chance to corrupt your device and cause damage.
  • Use a VPN. A VPN helps keep your internet traffic private and keeps your online activities secure while traveling or on public Wi-Fi. It gives you a secure connection to the internet. Some of our top-rated VPNs include NordVPN, Surfshark, and ExpressVPN.

Hacked email FAQ


+

What happens if a hacker gets your email address?

If a hacker gets your email address, your confidential information could be at risk. Hackers can use phishing emails to gain access to your other accounts or commit identity theft.


+

Should you delete your email if it’s been hacked?

You don’t need to delete your email if it’s been hacked, but you do need to take appropriate actions to prevent the hackers from doing further damage, like reaching out to your contacts or resetting your internet account credentials.


+

Will changing my password stop hackers?

Changing your password may not stop hackers. It’s one of the steps you should take to stop further damage, but you should also follow the other tips we’ve discussed to be safe.

Bottom line

Now that you know what to do if you’ve been hacked, you can take the proper steps to get life back to normal. Email security may not be something you’ve thought much about in the past, but you can see how getting hacked can lead to many other problems, like having your banking information stolen and your friends getting duped by a phishing email.

You hear a lot about internet safety now and with good reason. The online ecosystem can be tricky to navigate, but with our tips, you’ll have the best methods to keep your data secure.

Customizable Coverage That is Simple to Use
5.0
Editorial Rating
Learn More
On NordVPN's website
VPN
NordVPN
Up to 69% off 2-year plans + a Saily eSIM data gift
  • Ultra-secure, high-speed VPN complete with malware protection and automatic blocking of intrusive ads and third-party trackers
  • Other benefits include a premium password manager, dark web monitoring, and access to IP-restricted content
  • 3 plans to choose from for custom protection on up to 10 devices

Author Details
Patti Croft is a seasoned writer specializing in technology, with three years of experience. With a B.S. in Computer Science and a background as a technical analyst and security specialist, she covers a range of topics like data security and parental control software.

Citations

[1] Twitter Hacked, 200. Million User Email Addresses Leaked, Researcher Says