How do I know if my account has been compromised (hacked)?

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How do I know if my account has been compromised (hacked)?

Are your contacts getting emails that you didn't send? Is your Sent folder (or any other folder) suddenly empty or missing? If so, it's possible that your account has been compromised.

What's the difference between hacked and spoofed?

Your Sent folder may offer the best clue to whether you have been hacked or spoofed.

  • If you DO find email in your Sent folder that you did NOT send: Your account has been compromised (hacked).
  • If you DO NOT find any strange email in your Sent Folder: Your account has most likely been spoofed.

A compromised account is one that has been accessed by someone other than you. It usually means someone figured out your password (without your knowledge or consent) and was able to log in to your account.

If this seems to be the case with your account, we understand this can be very frustrating and want to help. AOL takes these issues very seriously. Please continue reading for more information on the next steps you should take.

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.
    Note: If there are no Spam emails in your Sent Folder, but you are still receiving MAILER-DAEMON messages, and your Contacts are receiving messages that you didn't send, your account most likely been spoofed.
  • 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 compromised, you should:

  • Visit and change your password immediately. Please see Creating secure passwords for our most up-to-date recommendations for making a strong password.
    IMPORTANT: New passwords should be at least six characters long and include at least one number, letter (combination of upper and lower cases) and special character ($, *, &, !, etc.). Make sure your new password is different from any other passwords you have used. Also, if you used the same password for other online accounts such as social media and financial services, change those passwords as well. We strongly advise you use different passwords for different social media accounts.
  • Make sure you have antivirus software installed and updated. Run scans frequently to make sure your computer is free of all malware. (If you have not installed any antivirus software, visit 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.
  • Review any Away Messages tied to your account to ensure no one has inserted spam or other inappropriate content. Please see Set up an away message in AOL Mail for more information.
  • 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 any signatures you use for AOL Mail, message board posts, or comments. Again, this is to ensure no one added spam or other inappropriate content. Please see How do I create or modify email signature in AOL Mail for additional information.
  • If you are still unable to change your password at, please call us at 1-855-622-4946 and we'd be more than happy to assist you (Mon-Fri, 8am-1am ET and Sat-Sun 8am-10pm ET).

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

If your AOL account appears to be tied to suspicious activity, we'll place a temporary hold on the account. If this happens, you'll be able to access your account again by changing your password. If you're not sure how to do so, please see How do I change my password?

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

  • Please visit AOL Mail's Security site for some great tips on keeping your account secure and identifying warning signs.
  • 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 all AOL 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 Username from the main Usernames menu. Check each Username's profile to make sure it hasn't been changed.
  • Recognize AOL Certified emails. Any email you receive from AOL will be labeled as “Certified,” 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. To learn more, please visit our help article What is AOL Certified Mail?

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

Prefer phone support? Contact us (paid members only) or upgrade your AOL plan to receive 24/7, live AOL technical support.

Related Articles:

What is email spoofing and how can I tell if my account has been spoofed?

About this article:
Last updated: 06-25-2014
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