Helping people with computers... one answer at a time.
If your Hotmail account has been hacked it may be nearly impossible to stop it from sending messages to your contacts, even if you do regain control.
I deleted my email address on Hotmail, because it was used by somebody else in my name. That person used all my contacts and is still sending emails in my name to everybody. How can I stop him from doing it after I canceled my Hotmail account?
There are many reasons why this could be happening, and there's simply no approach that will allow you to take control and guarantee that you can stop it.
Once your account has been compromised, there's very little you can do.
Let me explain why I paint such a grim picture.
The fundamental concept here is that closing your Hotmail account will not help.
It probably won't stop spammers from sending email that "looks like" it came from the account.
It probably won't stop spammers from sending email that actually does come from the account.
It probably won't stop spammers from sending email to the contacts from the account.
It probably won't stop a hacker from regaining access to the account.
It probably won't notify anyone that the account's been closed, and it won't cause messages sent to that account to bounce.
It's a pretty grim picture: it certainly makes not getting the account compromised in the first place a pretty important thing.
So, you close your account. And the spam to your contacts continues... how's that possible?
I can think of a couple of ways.
In my opinion, this is the most likely thing to have happened. When you close an account, you're typically given a grace period to change your mind. After closing the account, simply logging into it may reactivate it. And, remember, spammers are determined. They don't care if it involves some kind of password recovery dance.
If the spammer has any way of recovering your password (perhaps they set it, know your secret answers or changed your recovery email address), then they can swoop in once the account's been closed, recover access to the account, and undo the close.
Why is Hotmail set up this way? Unfortunately, it has to be.
Think about it: if the spammer closed the account on you, wouldn't you want a way to re-open it? Well, that way to re-open it works in both directions. If the spammer knows any of the information that can be used to recover access to your account, then they too can re-open it.
While the spammer has access to your hacked account prior to you closing it, it's extremely easy for them to export a copy of your contact list. Once they have that, they don't need your account any more. Even if you do manage to successfully close the account and it stays closed, they can send email to your contacts using any other email account.
And yes, even though they don't have access to your account, they can make it look like it came from your account. "From: spoofing" is an extremely common and easy task for spammers to accomplish. It's easy to make an email that looks like it came from your email address without having any access to your actual account.
Besides taking the appropriate steps to prevent your account from being hacked in the first place, there's little that can be done after the hack that stands much of a chance of getting full control back.
If you do regain control of your account, change everything. Change your password and every little bit of account profile information that could be used by a hacker to do a password recovery or otherwise re-hack your account.
That might help. Sadly, it might be too late, as we've seen above.
Otherwise, simply open up a new account, use it to tell all of your contacts to ignore anything coming from your old account, and move on.
And then, make sure you take all necessary precautions so that it doesn't happen again.
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