Times may have changed, but courtesy never goes out of style. In today's world sometimes it's complicated to figure out how to do the right thing. Local etiquette expert Karen Hickman answers your questions or helps solve your dilemmas on Fridays in The News-Sentinel and at news-sentinel.com.
Q. Karen, my email account was recently hacked, and I am wondering what the etiquette is regarding this situation. Do I need to notify everyone in my address book and let them know my account was hacked?
A. In a word, yes. Failure to notify all of your contacts is unprofessional and can put everyone in your database at risk for unwanted spam or, worse, spyware viruses. And your hacked account may continue to “e-harass” your contacts with unwanted information if you don't notify everyone.
If it is a personal email account that has been hacked, all that may be needed is to notify everyone, via email, that your account has been hacked and for them to ignore any links coming from your old email address. Then put your new email address in your message and change your password. You may also want to post something on your social media sites as well.
If your business database has been hacked and sensitive information regarding clients or patients, for instance, has been compromised, you may need the help of professionals. In this case an email notice may not be enough. It may require contacting everyone by telephone or by an old-fashioned written letter with all the details of what has happened and what you are doing to resolve the problem.
Conversely, if you receive an email from someone you know and it looks suspicious, such as an email with nothing in the subject line or a message that seems odd with just a link, contact the sender. Let the sender know you received something that looks out of the ordinary and you want to verify that he or she sent the link before opening it. The sender will appreciate it.
Hackers can crack email passwords and digital data very easily, which is a good reason to change passwords periodically, and be careful in using free public Wi-Fi. Be sure to keep contact lists and old client information cleaned out.
Also, remember to take the time to fill in subject lines when composing and sending your emails.