What To Do If My Gmail Account Was Accessed
It seems that email accounts get hacked all the time. An obvious sign of a hacked email account is when you're denied to your account when you try to sign in. This is because the first thing hackers do is change the password. The longer they have control, the more damage they can do. But just because you can login to your account doesn't mean it hasn't been compromised, some hackers prefer to stay in the shadows and syphon your email communications and try to find out what services they use, so they can click on "forgot password" link and then get the new password through your email.
Unfortunately, in order to make life easier, most people use the same username and password for all accounts and, once a hacker gets a hold of an email your identity, finances and other confidential information is at risk.
Best remedy for your email hacking problem depends on how it got compromised in the first place. You should also run a check on your computer to see if Spyware or Trojan Virus is recording your passwords as you type them, if this is the case then changing the password will not help because your new password will get recorded and sent to the hacker the minute you type it.
Alternatively your email may have been compromised when you clicked on a bogus password verification link and entered your username and password. This is called Phishing and it's a technique employed by hackers to make you believe that your account is comporomised and asking you to verify your login information in order to protect it (oh, the irony).
Think back and try to remember an instance when you were asked to enter your email password. If you remember doing that or believe you are a victim of phishing then simply changing the password is good enough.
It could also be your email providers's system which came under attack and exposed your login information. These systems are usually very secure and protect you themselves with several layers of defense including SSL security. This makes them one of the hardest targets for cracking, but it may still happen from time to time.
There are a couple of ways to protect your Gmail account. The first is to only access the account through secure sites like https://mail.google.com. Notice the "s" after "http." This is different from http://mail.google.com which is less protected as would be found in Internet cafes, airports, and other public places. Secondly, the password should be long and contain not only letters, but numbers and other characters as well (such as a dollar sign $ or an at @ sign). Finally, different usernames and passwords should be used to access different portals. The Gmail credentials should never be used for other sites.
If you have been hacked the first thing you should do is try the "forgot password" link". Since Gmail also carries alternative e-mail addresses, they may have gotten into the primary one, but not the alternate in which case you have time to change your password. If that doesn't work you still have two alternatives. The first is to refrain from accessing the account for seven days then try the password again. If the hacker hasn't gotten into the account during that time then you can answer the security question to get in and change the password. The other option is to submit the Google form indicating you have been hacked. The more information they have the better. There is the possibility you can get your old account back, but in most cases starting a new account is the safest bet.