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Hacked GMail Account

Posted on 2010-11-08
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Last Modified: 2012-05-10
A customer's college age daughter had her GMail account hacked.  This was noticed when her father received one of the famous "I'm stuck in Spain, please send money" emails.  There was no danger that he would respond because he knew his daughter was not in Spain and the wording in the message is so strange that it had to have been witten by someone who is not a native speaker of English or is totally illiterate.

I have seen this with other folks recently, but this one is worse.  The hacker changed her password and security question and probably changed her secondary email address if she has one.  She has filled out GMail's online form to regain entry into her account.

My first reaction was to tell her to accept the loss and rebuild everything with a new account, but things are further compicated by the fact that she had sent some security information (I did not ask for specifics) and her social security number in a clear text email that still resided on the system when it was hacked.

My questions are 1) How much trouble could she be in?  2) Should I advise her to get Social Security number changed?  3)  What else can she do to get back her GMail accountan the information stored in it?
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Question by:rhavey
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stevepcguy earned 500 total points
ID: 34089232
1) How much trouble could she be in?  
Well, she could be in a real pickle. First thing to do (like YESTERDAY) is to contact the 3 credit bureaus and advise them that personal information was compromised, and that no credit should be extended without direct contact with her.

2) Should I advise her to get Social Security number changed?  
SSA won't change a SSN for identity theft. The best thing you can advise her to do is to enroll in one of those credit protection companies, such as LifeLock. She can be notified whenever anyone even sniffs at her credit file, and could place a lock on her file so that no credit can be extended without direct approval.

3)  What else can she do to get back her GMail accountan the information stored in it?
I agree with you that she should just probably just start a new account. If she has already applied to gmail, they will eventually get to her.

The other thing I would ask is if she had bank accounts or credit accounts that could have been accessed on her computer. These could be easily cleaned out, or have balances run up. I would immediately change credit card numbers, and notify the bank to see if any unauthorized activity has occurred.

Good luck.
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by:rhavey
ID: 34089328
Thank you.  It would have taken me days to think through the prrocedure without this advice.
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