What to Do When Your Yahoo Mail Is Hacked

Plus, how to find out if it was hacked

It may be hard to tell if someone has hacked your Yahoo Mail account, but you can look for several warning signs. You should be especially watchful if you hear about a widespread data breach that may have revealed your password or login info. When you suspect your Yahoo email is hacked or compromised, it's important to act quickly to secure your data.

Person looking at computer code on a laptop
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How to Know if Your Yahoo Mail Is Hacked

It won't always be obvious that someone has gained access to your email and its information, and that's by design. The longer it takes you to re-secure your account, the longer the hacker can use it.

Here are some things to look out for.

  1. Are you still receiving mail? You may notice a lack of messages hitting your inbox, which could be a sign someone is getting to them before you are. It may be nothing; you could just be having a slow email day, but if you go several days without getting anything, you should probably take a closer look.

  2. Check your Sent folder. Hackers may use your address to blast out spam to your contacts, and they may leave the evidence behind. This method isn't a guarantee, but if you see messages in your Sent folder that you didn't write, you definitely have a problem.

    Even if the messages aren't still in your outbox, your friends will probably mention they've received spam from you.

  3. Look out for suspicious activity or unfamiliar devices. When you log in to your Yahoo account using a web browser, you can see which other devices are also signed in. Go to Account Info under your profile picture in the upper-right corner, then select Recent Activity.

    You'll see all of the devices that can access your account, along with their locations. If you see one that isn't familiar to you, select Sign Out to remove its access.

  4. Check your other settings. Select the Settings gear on your Yahoo home page, then select More Settings to access settings like filters, forwarding addresses, and the name that appears on messages you send. Hackers can change these to intercept your email or affect how your account works.

  5. Look for reports of security breaches. When services like Yahoo suffer massive data leaks, you'll see something about it in the news. Unfortunately, companies don't always announce that the breaches happened for weeks or months after the attacks occurred, so once it hits the news, your information may already be in trouble.

How to Secure a Hacked Yahoo Mail Account

If you discover strange and suspicious activity in your account or hear about a breach, you'll want to lock down your data as soon as possible. Here are some steps to take to keep your account safe.

  1. Change your password. Two of the best ways to keep your important accounts secure are to update the passwords and not use the same one for multiple sites. You can use a password manager to both generate and store unique credentials and automatically log in to sites you visit.

    Along with regular updates, you want to make sure you're choosing strong passwords to keep the account more secure.

  2. Don't rely on your password. Yahoo Mail offers a couple options to secure your account, both of which use your smartphone to authorize access. You can use both if you want, and it's probably worth doing it to ensure your account is as secure as possible.

    • Two-step authentication: Tells Yahoo to send you a code via text message the first time you try to sign in using a new device or from a new location using your password. You won't have to do this every time you sign in unless you sign out from that device in your account.
    • A Yahoo Account Key: Bypasses the password altogether and ties your login to an authorization from your phone via the Yahoo Mail app.
  3. Change your security questions and answers. Just like your password, hackers can uncover the questions you answer to prove you're really you during the password-reset process. These details are items like your mother's maiden name, the year you graduated from high school, and the street you grew up on.

    For extra security with these questions, make up answers that only you know. Dedicated hackers may be able to find the correct responses on the internet, so entering accurate information may not be as secure as you'd like.

  4. Sign up to receive notifications on data breaches. Credit-checking services like Credit Karma and CreditWise will notify you via emails and app notifications as soon as they detect your information was involved in a leak. This won't help you lock down your Yahoo account if someone has already hacked it, but you'll get notice and can respond faster in the event of future incidents.