No one likes to think that our email accounts can be hacked.  But everyone needs to be ready to react quickly if that happens.  Why? Because under the “worse case” scenario, the hacking could mean that personal and financial information has been stolen.  That raises the possibility of identity theft with all of the attendant problems scammers can create for you.

How would you know if your email has been hacked?  And what should you be ready to do if it is?  Adam Levin has posted an excellent article with answers to both those questions. Mr. Levin is the former Director of the New Jersey Division of Consumer Affairs and is the founder of Credit.com and Identity Theft 911.  His article is titled “9 Things You Need to Do When Your Email Is Hacked” (www.huffingtonpost.com; under “Tech”; July 22).

Mr. Levin writes that the following could be indicators of email hacking: seeing an empty inbox; finding all of their contacts have been deleted; or learning from friends about strange emails they’re getting under your name.

He then list the 9 things you should do immediately.  His guidance ranges from the immediate “Change your password” through “Report the incident to the email site” to “Monitor” your personal and financial accounts.  The latter is advice I’ve previously shared and Mr. Levin provides links to two sites that will help you do so.  The first is to AnnualCreditReport.com where you can order the once a year free reports from the three major credit reporting companies; the second is to Credit.com where you can request their tool that will help you understand your overall credit history and credit scores.  Finally, he suggests contacting the credit reporting companies to get a “fraud alert” placed on your accounts in case you have found evidence that someone is using your personal and/or financial information for fraudulent purposes.

Do read Mr. Levin’s article with all 9 of his “action items” so you’ll know what to do if you have to act quickly.  Here’s hoping you’ll never have to use them.