How to tell if your email account has been hacked

Recognize the signs your account has been compromised so you can take control of your account back.


You may suspect that your e-mail account has been hacked when you can’t login to your account or you are getting undelivered or bounced messages for the e-mails you didn’t even send or the people on your e-mail contact list are complaining of receiving e-mails that wasn’t sent by you. There could only be one of the two reasons for this — a virus or a hacker. You should know that your e-mail account has been compromised when you see yourself facing any of the symptoms stated below.

When you receive bounce messages and undelivered notifications

The people who actually send spam mailers normally replace their genuine e-mail address with an e-mail address that they have randomly picked from the mailing address book or something that they have just made up arbitrarily.

So, in order to track down the real source of the e-mail check the “Reading Email Headers” because some e-mailers don’t normally distinguish between the manually editable “From” ID and the genuine sender source. The best way to combat this is to simply delete the undelivered notifications and the messages that bounced back without clicking on any link mentioned in the e-mail.

Not able to login to your e-mail account

If your e-mail service provider claims that the password that you have entered is invalid, there is a possibility that someone else has accessed it and changed your password. However, most e-mail service providers have an option of password recovery. If you ever feel that your e-mail account has been compromised, change your password to an immediate effect. Ensure that the alternate e-mail address that you have provided as a part of your password recovery is thoroughly active and regularly visited. Nevertheless, also make sure that the problem does not lie at your e-mail service provider’s end before hitting the panic button.

‘Sent Items’ folder getting updated on its own

Often, some e-mail worm acts in a way that makes copies of itself and appear in the sent items folder of your e-mail. It is most likely to be an older version of a worm which can be removed easily, as the new-age malware normally doesn’t leave behind such obvious evidences. The best way to challenge this problem is to update your antivirus software and run a full scan on your PC on a regular basis.

When e-mail is sent to a recipient and cannot be traced back in the sent folder on ‘Webmail’

This happens when the hacker knows your e-mail username and password and sends spam and malicious e-mails to the people in your address book. They usually remove the traces from the sent items folder to avoid exposure. If you ever happen to face such a situation, change your password immediately as your e-mail ID is at the risk of being gravely misused. Also, make sure that you never share your username and password with anybody.

Recipients in your address book complaining about e-mails that you remember not sending

The recipients on your address book may be sending you angry responses for the spam they might receiving from you, and you clearly remember not having sent any such e-mail. You run a malware check on your PC and notify the e-mail service provider of the situation.


If you face any of the situations above, you should know that your e-mail account has been hacked or compromised. Take the necessary measures to rectify them or prevent them from happening in the first place by monitoring your account on a regular basis.

Tip: No matter what, if you think your account has been accessed without your permission, change your password immediately.

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