The sent folder or outbox contains email that I didn't send

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The sent folder or outbox contains email that I didn't send

Are your contacts getting emails that you didn’t send? Is your Sent folder (or any other folder) suddenly empty or missing?

If so, your account has most likely been hacked (or compromised) and has been accessed by someone other than you. It usually means someone figured out your password.

Check for these signs:

  • Your inbox is full of MAILER-DAEMON rejection notices for messages you didn't send.
  • People you know are getting emails from you that you didn’t send.
  • There are outgoing messages in your Sent, Drafts or Outbox folder that you didn’t create or send.
  • Your account folders (Sent, Deleted, Spam, Inbox, etc.) have been emptied or deleted.
  • Your Address Book contacts have been erased.
  • During sign-in or when sending a message, you're asked to pass an image challenge.
  • Emails you try to send are suddenly getting refused and returned to you.
  • There are contacts in your Address Book you didn’t add.
  • You keep getting bumped offline when you're signed into your account.
  • Your Display Name has been changed or looks odd.
  • Your email signature suddenly has a link you didn’t put there.
  • You're not getting new mail, OR your new mail is going straight into your Saved IMs folder.

If you think your account has been hacked, you should:

  • Go to to change your password. Visit our help article Creating secure passwords for our most up-to-date recommendations on making the strongest password possible.
    Note: The new password should be at least six characters long and include at least one number, letter (combination of upper and lower cases) and special character ($, *, &, !, etc.). Also, if you used the same password for other online accounts such as social media and financial services, change those passwords as well. Make sure these new passwords are very different from your new AOL Mail password.
  • Make sure you have a recent version of antivirus software. Run scans frequently to make sure your computer is free of all malware. (If you have not installed any antivirus software, go to AOL Internet Security Central to find the latest McAfee software provided by AOL).
  • Change your Account Security Question by following the steps in our help article Change or Reset my ASQ.
  • Check your Display Name (the name people see when you send them mail) to make sure it doesn't contain the letters "AOL", "A.O.L." or "Aol". Spammers sometimes change an account's Display Name and that can cause you to see an error message when trying to send mail.
  • Review “Away Messages” in both your AOL Mail and AIM settings to ensure no one has inserted spam or other inappropriate content. Visit the help article Set up an away message in AOL Mail to learn how.
  • Review your “signatures” for AOL Mail, message board posts, and comments. Again, this is to ensure no one added spam or other inappropriate content. The help article How do I create or modify email signature in AOL Mail will tell you how.

If you can’t sign on with your current password…

When an email account suddenly appears tied to suspicious activity, we place a temporary hold on the account. You can access your account again by changing your password. If you’re not sure how to do so, read our help article How do I change my password?

Note: If you still can't change your password or security question (ASQ) after visiting, please call 1-855-622-4946 (Mon-Fri 8am-1am ET and Sat-Sun 8am-10pm ET) and we'll be more than happy to help you.

To help keep your account safe, we recommend that you:

  • Learn to spot phishing email scams. Please visit the AOL Account Security site for more information on how to best protect your account, how to spot a phishing email, and what you should do when you receive one.
  • Protect your account with comprehensive online security. You can download software to help protect your computer from viruses, spyware, hackers and even identity theft. For more information regarding safety and security for your PC, please visit AOL Internet Security Central.
  • Keep tabs on your account. Periodically check the Usernames on your account by going to If you see a Username you don’t recognize, select it and click delete. If you’re missing a Username that you formerly had under your account, you can restore it by clicking Restore a Recently Deleted Screen Name from the main Screen Names menu. Check each Username's profile to make sure it hasn’t been changed.
  • Recognize AOL Certified emails. Email coming from AOL is often sent as “Certified Mail,” which means it’s marked with a unique green ribbon icon. This icon is visible from your inbox view before you open the email to help you identify authentic AOL messages.


REMEMBER: AOL employees will never ask you for your password.

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Last updated: 08-22-2014
© 2013 AOL Inc.