Has this happened to you?
You get a call or email from a friend or a family member who tells you that Spam is finding its way to them and it is coming with your name on it.
What’s worse than getting spam? Unwittingly sending it.
When fake and probably malware-laden advertising goes out in your name, it can be frustrating and a bit scary. You may get flooded with bounced messages from dead addresses that some crook attempted to spam in your name.
The good news: Odds are good that you’re not really sending out spam and neither is your computer or your IP address.
If spam is going out from your email address, odds are good that the address has been either spoofed or hijacked. Either way, the spam isn’t actually going out from your computer, and probably not from the criminal’s computer, either. It’s probably going out from an unknowing victim’s malware-infected PC.
Spoofing an email address is, in a sense, forging it. The spammer sends out mail with your From address, even though they have no access to your account.
There’s really no solution to spoofing. Fortunately, for their own reasons, cybercrooks tend to change spoofed addresses frequently. The annoyance will disappear soon.
Hijacking is a bit worse. In this case, the criminal takes control of your account. They can read your mail, and they can target people you know when they spam. And they can lock you out of your own account.
Fortunately, you can do something about hijacking.
As soon as you discover that your address is spamming people, try to change your password…immediately. If you succeed, you’ve fixed the problem. End of story.
However, if your mail service rejects your password, the problem is serious. The hijacker has changed the password first and now controls your account. If you’re still connected and can receive mail, try to login on another computer or using your browser’s private mode. When the login fails, try the service’s “Forgot your password” or “Need help” link. The service will email you a new password. Hopefully, you’ll get it before the bad guy. If that fails, you’ll have to contact the mail service (i.e. GMAIL, Outlook, Yahoo, etc.) and discuss the problem.
Have you been using the same password for other services? If so, change them as soon as possible.
Once you’ve got everything under control, email apologies to everyone who received, or might have received, spam apparently coming from you.
Finally, follow these steps to make sure this doesn’t happen again:
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