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Hacked? What to do to protect yourself

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Despite being ultra-careful, sometimes our passwords can fall into the wrong hands and our online accounts are hacked. 

Here are seven quick tips on what to do if that happens to you:

1. Notice the signs – often if an account has been hacked or compromised it will infect your computer with a virus or start sending out messages to your contact list. If you notice anything unusual, don’t ignore it – the sooner you discover your online account has been hacked the better.

2. Inform your friends – let your friends know by texting or calling them. Then they can avoid downloading the virus from you and infecting their computers.

3. Run anti-virus software immediately – if you have it then take the time to run a full system check.

4. Change your passwords – take the opportunity to change all of your passwords – use a different one for each account and make sure it’s not something someone could guess. Try using a meaningful sentence as the basis of your new password. For example, “I go to the gym in the morning” turns into “Ig2tGYMitm” using the first letter of each word in the sentence, mixing uppercase and lowercase letters and replacing the word “to” with “2”.

5. Think about accounts like eBay, Amazon or iTunes – these use your email address as your log in. Consider changing the email address you use to log in with so hackers can’t gain access there as well.

6. Check your email settings – sometimes hackers might change your settings to forward a copy of every email you receive to themselves, so they can watch for any emails containing login information for other sites. Check your mail forwarding settings.

7. Prevent it from happening again – limit the amount of personal information you share publicly on social media. Hackers use this publicly available personal information to help answer security questions that protect your accounts.