If you've been the victim of a hacked email, Facebook or Twitter account, you may be in for more than some simple annoyances and spam. Hacked emails could mean that the hackers have more personal information than you realize – including your online bills, shopping sites and banking information. (If you have not changed your Facebook, Twitter or email password in a while, let this article be the stimulus you need.)
Luckily there are a few steps you can take in order to put a stop to any further damage, and possibly recover your information along the way.
1. Contact your account providers. Check your email and social media sites for their "help" or "Contact Us" pages: they all have them. Most providers like Google, Yahoo! and Hotmail have directions for how to change your email password.
2. Contact your bank. If you make any online purchases, contacting your bank should be the next step. You should also contact your credit card companies, even if you do not use them online. It's not difficult for hackers to find that information once they have your banking information.
3. Contact your friends, family and employer. If you use your personal email to keep in touch with your loved ones or your boss, sending a quick "my email was hacked" note may help you avoid problems later. You may also want to post a message on your Twitter or Facebook accounts.
Remember, too, that a hacked email is not the end all, be all. Any online community you belong to should be informed that your accounts are compromised. That includes online gaming communities, employment sites like Monster.com and LinkedIn.com, and any site where you post pictures or share ideas. (Pinterest comes to mind.)
Changing Your Email Password – and Other Precautions
Writer Mat Honan is famous in the hacking world. That's because when he was wiped out by hacker, he found out that the hacker had simply asked for the information – not stolen it. If you're lucky enough not to have experienced being hacked, there are some steps you can take to avoid putting yourself in danger of losing all of your information like Honan did.
Change your email passwords – now. Learn how to change your email passwords in case you need to do it again.
Change your social networking passwords so that they're not the same as your email password.
Make sure to enable secondary precautions, like adding a secondary email account or a mobile phone number to your accounts.
Purchase a virus protection system; it could catch potential viruses designed to grab your information off of your hard drive.
Do not save your banking information on shopping sites: the last four digits of your credit card may be all a hacker needs.
Delete every account you're no longer using. If you're like most people, your online life goes back at least ten years. Get rid of anything you do not use.
Save everything on backup storage. You can invest in a secondary hard drive or an offsite storage facility to keep your pictures, document and music safe.
Encrypt your data so that hackers can not read it.
An ounce of prevention goes a long way. You do not have to follow every step listed here (although you'll be safer if you do), but taking steps now to avoid falling victim to identity theft is always a bright idea.