If your email gets hijacked, you’ll figure it out quickly enough. People will start calling you to ask why you sent those out-of-character messages…

Scammers steal their way into email accounts every day. If your email gets stolen, the first and best thing to do is: Reset your email password.

But that may not be all that’s needed. Changing your password is often not enough.

Once you’ve secured your email and changed that password, you should test your email. Ask a trusted friend to send you a message. Reply to their email and send them back a message. Both of you should look closely to make sure the emails go through and look normal upon receipt.

If any abnormal messages show up, or if any emails vanish and never arrive, then the problem is only half-solved. The scammer may have made other changes to your account, in the hopes that you wouldn’t notice.

To find and reverse these changes, you’ll need to access your email through its Webmail site or through your web browser. You can’t fix these things within mail client programs like Thunderbird or Outlook 2019. These settings might also be hard to find through its app on your mobile devices.

Once logged into your email in a web browser, you’ll want to go into the Account Settings or Mail Settings area, and look for these items:

  • Mail Forwarding: Check to make sure your email is not forwarding to another address. If this feature was enabled, all of your new messages may be sent on silently to the bad guys’ email, and they can attempt new scams based on the messages rerouted from you. Turn it off!
  • Reply To: Settings: Another change the bad guys might make is with the “Reply To:” setting. They can stick another email in there, so that when people reply to your messages, the replies are diverted to the scammers, and not you! This setting should typically be empty or set to your exact email address.
  • Rules: Email invaders may also set up Rules that train your email to auto-delete incoming messages or send auto-replies to anyone trying to contact you. If you are not getting any new messages, they’ve likely put in a Rule to trash everything new that arrives. This makes it so that you don’t get any emails from people offering to help you.

If you have trouble finding these settings, call someone for help. Your ISP might offer some free tech support, or you can consult with your friendly neighborhood computer tech for detailed help.