Are You Spamming Your Email Contacts? How to Find Out & Fix the Problem

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Are You Spamming Your Email Contacts? How to Find Out & Fix the Problem

Everyone despises spam. At best, it’s annoying and takes a few seconds of your time; at worst, it’s phishing and poses a risk to everyone who engages with the fraudulent communications. We’ve all received emails offering attractive singles in our region or how to earn a lot of money overnight, but it’s a different story when your account is the one sending the spam.

It’s critical to be aware of the indicators that someone has tampered with your email account, as well as what steps to take if you notice a problem. Let’s make sure you know how to perform both of these before moving on to how to avoid this rubbish in the first place.

Evidence Your Account is Compromised

Unfortunately, when your email account has been compromised, the symptoms may not usually appear in the same manner. This does not, however, imply that you will be completely unaware of what is going on. If you see any of these signs, you must take action.

Something’s up With Your Sent Folder

Most of us don’t check our email’s Sent folder as often as we do Inbox Zero, but it’s a good idea to keep an eye on what’s leaving your inbox. Scrutinize the headlines and investigate anything that seems suspicious. Of course, just because your Sent mail is clean doesn’t imply there hasn’t been any misbehavior. A spammer might simply erase them to avoid detection.

Nonsense Found in Recent Activity

Most email providers include a website where you can see who has recently accessed your account. Examine this page once a month or so, and if you see access from devices you don’t own or from places you’re not even near to, it’s a good indication that someone else has gotten into your email.

Google Dashboard stores all of your information for different Google services for Gmail users. Under Account, you can check which devices and locations have accessed your account in the previous month. Scroll down to Gmail to see how many messages have been sent and the most recent one. If this figure is really high, it is most certainly the result of a bot spamming.

Users of Yahoo may do the same with their login history, while Hotmail users can go to Microsoft Account Recent Activity. Other email services should provide a similar feature.

You Aren’t Getting Email

It’s not as frequent, but if your account is under hostile control, you may not be getting emails that you anticipate (not to mention another one of those never-ending newsletters!). If you suspect this, have a buddy send you an email to ensure that it is received. Reply to them just to make sure your email hasn’t been tampered with or has an unwanted signature added to it.

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Friends Complain

This may seem apparent, but it actually depends on who is on your contact list, since they will most likely be the recipients of the spam. If you often send hilarious images and tales to your pals or have meaningful talks with them over email, they’ll know it wasn’t your hand that sent the “hey click here to lose weight” crap – and they’ll be able to let you know so the issue doesn’t carry on for weeks.

Having fewer tech-savvy people in your contact book might be a concern since they are more likely to fall for hackers posing as you and requesting money. If you haven’t already, it could be worth your time to speak with them.

Shutting Down the Problem

Let’s start with a look at the most typical reasons of a hacked email propagating spam. A weak password is a typical problem; if you’re using an easy-to-guess password, you should immediately update it with a strong one that you can remember. If you often use public computers, learn how to be secure on public computers so you don’t inadvertently reveal your login information. When you are the one getting the spam, never click on a weird links or input your email password unless you are certain it is the legitimate site.

Now, let’s look at how you may prevent your email from being utilized as a spam factory.

Change Your Password

When you suspect a breach of your account, the first thing you should do is reset your password. An invader might be latent, so once you figure out what’s going on, time is of the importance. Reading our password management guide will help you clear up any confusion. Changing your password prevents them from accessing your account in the future, but you must do more.

Scan for Malware

At this point, it’s unclear if the spam came from your computer or from somewhere else, so perform a check to ensure you don’t have an infection on your system. Check out our malware removal resources – Malwarebytes Premium or SUPERAntiSpyware (both of which we’ve covered extensively) should do the trick. Before proceeding with your email issue, if you uncover anything extremely awful, read through the procedures to do when you locate malware.

It’s also a good idea to check for browser infections at this stage – we’ve looked at how to clean up Chrome, but you can combat pop-up advertising and clear your extensions in any browser. If you uncover evidence of keyloggers on your machine, change your password again; you don’t want malware to have your new password!

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Check the Spam’s IP Address

It’s time to figure out how the spam email got started. There are two possibilities: either someone gained access to your account by stealing your password, phishing, or some other methods, or the email never really reached your account and was just faked to seem to be from you. In the second situation, you can track emails back to their origin and see through the deception. We’ll show you how to accomplish it in Gmail, but the procedure is similar in other mail programs.

Simply click the small arrow to the right of the Reply button to see all choices and pick View Original on any email (get someone who got the spam send it to you if you don’t have a copy). Here you can see all of the email’s technical data (it’s bad, because the view we’re used to can be readily spoofed).

Look for the word Received. The IP address that the message came from is at the top of this paragraph. You may follow it down the list until it reaches your address. Enter the IP address into a website like IP-Lookup to find out where it came from and who owns the address. If the address seems to be completely random, it was most likely used as a counterfeit for the express goal of spamming.

In this scenario, we can see that Ryan’s email came from Google’s mail server, which is consistent with his usage of Gmail. If this was spam, we’ve already gone through the processes to figure out what occurred – a weird IP address in your account history indicates that someone really logged into your account from that IP address. If your email is being sent to an unfamiliar address or you recall clicking a suspicious link, it is likely that your email is being faked.

Check to Ensure Everything Else is in Order

Now that you’ve recognized and resolved the problem, let’s make sure no traces of it remain. Check your signature and forwarding rules to ensure that no one has set up a filter to send all of your email to their own address, for example. To double-check, send an email to one of your contacts and ask them to forward it to you, or send it to another address you have on file.

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In addition, use this opportunity to ensure that your account information is up to date. Do you have a defunct phone number or email address listed as an emergency contact? Make sure you have access to your account in case it is attacked again. Examine the applications that have access to your account (wherever you’ve logged in with your Google account, for example) and make sure none of them are abusing rights.

Finally, send a polite email to your contacts informing them that your account was hijacked and that you have everything under control again. Perhaps you could even ask them to notify you if the situation arises again in the future (through another method, such as a Facebook message or a phone call, would be preferable). Hopefully, your friends recognize fraudulent emails and do not fall for spam, but it’s wise to warn them just in case.

Let’s Never do This Again

Fortunately, after you’ve cleaned up this mess, it won’t happen again in the future. Many of the actions you’ve done above, like as choosing a stronger password, can help safeguard your account in the future. In this scenario, going the additional mile is wise; consider utilizing two-factor authentication on large websites that offer it. Another smart strategy is to create a secondary, permanent email account and add it to your main email’s contacts list. If you ever start sending spam again, your backup email will get a copy and you’ll be notified immediately away.

Above everything, be cautious. You have a duty to keep your accounts clean, especially given the very real risk of sharing harmful links to your friends. Many if you haven’t encountered this issue, take the time to complete a quick email security audit (Google provides even more advice) to ensure you’re doing your bit to guard against spam. Too many individuals aren’t, which is why these issues remain.

Instead, are you the recipient of spam? Knowing how to identify a risky email attachment and how spammers get your email will be both intriguing and useful.

Has your email account ever emitted spam? Have you ever been duped into clicking on a malicious link sent to you from a friend’s account? Share your experiences and advice in the comments!

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