Identity crisis
October 8, 2012 6:14 PM   Subscribe

Hacking gmail to show me recently viewed messages? I am worried about identity theft after seeing an "open from 1 other location" message.

I left my gmail open by accident in a public/shared computer at the library. It looked like when I opened it that it had stayed signed in there for 1 full day.

ALL of my important information is in there...

Should I be worried about identity theft?

How can I tell what emails were looked at (like from my bank?)

Is there a way to check this (like the history in gmail?)

Thank you!!!!!
posted by kettleoffish to Computers & Internet (6 answers total)
Best answer: Did the last account activity list any new activity, or just that it was opened 1 day ago?

From what I can tell Gmail doesn't store the history of read/unread message status (or really any history) - I don't think this information is not even available in APIs, so I don't think there'd be any way for you to access it from within Gmail.

I would check your trash (in case someone read and deleted something and didn't empty it from the trash). I'd also immediately log into all accounts and change passwords. If the person used their access to your email account to reset any passwords, you would notice that the password had been changed for that account and would have trouble logging in. Another potential worry is if they did a "Forgot Password" for a not-so-secure site that sends you the actual password (instead of a temporary one or a reset link), they could have seen a password you potentially reuse on other sites. Changing all your passwords should take care of this.

Also check your settings. Someone could, for example, be forwarding a copy of every email to another account, or could have granted another Gmail account access to yours.

A last worry would be that someone would copy your contacts and scam them, pretending to be you. If you were worried about this, you could email everyone saying that you think your account might have been accessed and if they hear anything suspicious, they should confirm with you by calling you on the phone.

If I did the above and didn't see anything unusual, I would just keep an eye on everything but not be super worried.
posted by beyond_pink at 6:40 PM on October 8, 2012 [2 favorites]

Best answer: You don't make a habit of emailing your social security number to people, do you? Or typing your full credit card number into an email? Or telling people where you buried your cache of gold bars? If not, you're probably fine.

I second beyond_pink's advice: it's not a bad idea to change your banking passwords and gmail password. On the whole, though, I think you might be worrying a little too much. There are much better ways to steal someone's identity than lurking in a library, looking for an unsecured email address. It's possible that a stranger snooped into your stuff a little bit, but honestly, when people go to the gmail website on library computers, it's usually to check their own email.

You may be overthinking this a bit.
posted by catalytics at 7:22 PM on October 8, 2012 [2 favorites]

Best answer: The only way to be sure that a compromised email account won't lead to identity theft is to lock it down to prevent further compromise, then comb through it obsessively as if you were a determined, hungry identity thief; extract all the potentially sensitive information you can find into a single document; then work systematically through that and change every credit card number, password, bank account number etc. that you've dug out.

This takes a very long time, especially for a big mailbox, and is a complete pain in the arse.

So what you need to do now is work out whether your present level of worry is a worse pain in the arse.
posted by flabdablet at 7:50 PM on October 8, 2012 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Change your password. Turn on two-factor authentication - it texts a code to your cell phone. It will only do this once for trusted computers and will make gmail much more secure.
posted by SciGuy at 7:56 PM on October 8, 2012 [2 favorites]

Response by poster: Oh, that's so cool! I didn't know that the account showed recent activity, I thought it only said the last time it was signed in.

Apparently nobody went on gmail on that computer or signed out. But also nobody went in my inbox. There were no signs of activity in gmail after around the time I used it.
posted by kettleoffish at 8:24 PM on October 8, 2012

Best answer: In that case, probably all you need to do is use the other neat feature you might have missed ("sign out all other sessions", available on the Recent Activity page) and call it Job Done.
posted by flabdablet at 11:57 PM on October 8, 2012 [1 favorite]

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