Microsoft (hotmail) has denied me access to my 19 year old email account

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Jan 14, 2019
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#1
Recently my password for my Hotmail account has ceased working. I have had this account for 19 years. I have used the same series of passwords (always the same words with different numbers over the years) for 19 years.

But recently, this password would not work. When I tried to reset it, it asked for my phone number (a phone # I had back in college), an alternative email address (I hadn't used it in 10 years) and the name of my best friend. I tried to enter the name of my best friend, but it would not let me enter the last letter each time.

When I contacted them, they prompted me to go through their validation process which include a form you fill in answer the following questions:
Name
Birthday
Best friend
Where you lived when creating the account
exact subject lines of old emails
email addresses of people you contacted
passwords used


I have supplied answers to ALL of these questions thoroughly and truthfully and they have denied me access to my account five times. At their instruction each time I failed, they told me to try again. After trying too many times though, they've told me I'm locked out now (meaning I cannot try different passwords to try and log in anymore).

They have told me that the system is in place to ward off hackers. I have never been hacked through hotmail, but I am now being locked out by the system of an account I've owned for almost two decades. The fact that the internet is filled with the exact same stories dealing with hotmail is testament to this broken system.


What makes me particularly upset is, they can see I am putting the correct passwords I have used in the past. If a password is all I needed in the past to gain access to an account, why do I now need to answer questions to answers I gave 19 years ago. It is a broken system, and the consumers are being punished. And honestly, I don't know if I will ever use their email, or any product again, after this.


On top of this, someone I knew my whole life died last year of cancer. The email correspondence in this account is all I have left of that relationship. To lose these messages is so sad. This account also contains countless correspondence with friends and family over 19 years.


Additionally, I have not logged into this account in a few months. The longer they take to resolve this, the closer I get to the account being made inactive and then deleted.


I realize I have not been scammed out of money by Microsoft, but in some ways what I am losing is invaluable. There has been a lot in the media recently about incompetent/ unethical management of data. We trust these big companies with our deeply personal data but what responsibility do they have to their consumers? Should we lose our right to access all our memories and correspondence after failing a simple algorithm? Should they be so cavalier with our lives or with things we will never get back should they deny us access? Where do their responsibilities lie to their consumers?


I am desperate for someone to please help me gain access to my account. I have no where else to turn. I am devastated by this situation.
 

weihlac

Verified Member
Jun 30, 2017
1,427
1,399
113
Maui Hawaii
#2
Recently my password for my Hotmail account has ceased working. I have had this account for 19 years. I have used the same series of passwords (always the same words with different numbers over the years) for 19 years.

But recently, this password would not work. When I tried to reset it, it asked for my phone number (a phone # I had back in college), an alternative email address (I hadn't used it in 10 years) and the name of my best friend. I tried to enter the name of my best friend, but it would not let me enter the last letter each time.

When I contacted them, they prompted me to go through their validation process which include a form you fill in answer the following questions:
Name
Birthday
Best friend
Where you lived when creating the account
exact subject lines of old emails
email addresses of people you contacted
passwords used


I have supplied answers to ALL of these questions thoroughly and truthfully and they have denied me access to my account five times. At their instruction each time I failed, they told me to try again. After trying too many times though, they've told me I'm locked out now (meaning I cannot try different passwords to try and log in anymore).

They have told me that the system is in place to ward off hackers. I have never been hacked through hotmail, but I am now being locked out by the system of an account I've owned for almost two decades. The fact that the internet is filled with the exact same stories dealing with hotmail is testament to this broken system.


What makes me particularly upset is, they can see I am putting the correct passwords I have used in the past. If a password is all I needed in the past to gain access to an account, why do I now need to answer questions to answers I gave 19 years ago. It is a broken system, and the consumers are being punished. And honestly, I don't know if I will ever use their email, or any product again, after this.


On top of this, someone I knew my whole life died last year of cancer. The email correspondence in this account is all I have left of that relationship. To lose these messages is so sad. This account also contains countless correspondence with friends and family over 19 years.


Additionally, I have not logged into this account in a few months. The longer they take to resolve this, the closer I get to the account being made inactive and then deleted.


I realize I have not been scammed out of money by Microsoft, but in some ways what I am losing is invaluable. There has been a lot in the media recently about incompetent/ unethical management of data. We trust these big companies with our deeply personal data but what responsibility do they have to their consumers? Should we lose our right to access all our memories and correspondence after failing a simple algorithm? Should they be so cavalier with our lives or with things we will never get back should they deny us access? Where do their responsibilities lie to their consumers?


I am desperate for someone to please help me gain access to my account. I have no where else to turn. I am devastated by this situation.
You can email Microsoft: https://www.elliott.org/company-contacts/microsoft/

Start at the first cust serv person (you may have already dealt with them) and escalate every 1-2 weeks if no/negative response.

Once you (hopefully) get access to your account you need to use a client on your own computer rather than relying on web access only. If you rely on web access only it was only a matter of time before you lost access, esp if you are not a frequent user of your account. You can use Thunderbird or some other program allowing you to retain all of your messages on your own computer (which you may wish to back up as well). You can still access the Hotmail messages from other computers when you are not at home.

I use gmail.com but have all of my messages on my computer in Thunderbird. This means I do not have to be online to access messages or to compose emails. I need to be online only to download or send messages. You also may wish to change to Gmail; it is more integral to Google's core business than Hotmail is to Microsoft.
 

jsn55

Verified Member
Dec 26, 2014
7,935
7,823
113
San Francisco
#3
At some point, everyone will have an issue with their email, no matter who they utilize. Important emails need to be backed up. I use three email addresses, segregated by certain criteria. For important emails that I value, I forward them to two of my addresses and delete the original. I give them a subject line that allows me to find them again. l save them under various subjects. This sounds tedious, but it probably takes 20 seconds. Several times over the years, especially with emails related to travel, I have been able to open a folder, alphabetize it and pull up whatever info I want. Occasionally I go in and clean it all up. I really, really hate not being able to put my hands on information immediately.
 
Likes: Neil Maley
Jan 14, 2019
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#7
Is it possible that the account was hacked and the verification answers were changed?
Hello Christina,

Thank you for your reply. No I don't think it was hacked. I set this account up almost 20 years ago, and I answered these security questions so long ago.

For example, often times when I was young I would use an alias name and alias bday when setting up emails to protect my privacy on the web. Nowadays I don't bother. But, trying the right combination of some of these answers is hard, and being that they only let you submit one validation form a day, it could take forever.

Also they want my most recent "subject lines" for emails. I don't have these. I can't remember emails I sent months ago. But I was able to find ones i sent from a few years ago. But whether the validation algorithm will approve this or not, or whether it's too old, I don't know.

As I haven't been in this account for a good few months I am worried if this drags I will lose this account all together, and all the memories i have in there. It's 20 years of correspondence and some of the only messages I have left between me and my deceased friend. This is what breaks my heart and is why I am trying so hard to recover it.
Thanks
 
Jan 14, 2019
17
1
3
36
#9
You can email Microsoft: https://www.elliott.org/company-contacts/microsoft/

Start at the first cust serv person (you may have already dealt with them) and escalate every 1-2 weeks if no/negative response.

Once you (hopefully) get access to your account you need to use a client on your own computer rather than relying on web access only. If you rely on web access only it was only a matter of time before you lost access, esp if you are not a frequent user of your account. You can use Thunderbird or some other program allowing you to retain all of your messages on your own computer (which you may wish to back up as well). You can still access the Hotmail messages from other computers when you are not at home.

I use gmail.com but have all of my messages on my computer in Thunderbird. This means I do not have to be online to access messages or to compose emails. I need to be online only to download or send messages. You also may wish to change to Gmail; it is more integral to Google's core business than Hotmail is to Microsoft.
Hello,
Thanks for your response. Yes, I think in the future that would be a great idea! I had no idea about Thunderbird. Thanks!

I have been trying to gain access for a full month and some now, but each time they won't budge. They send pre-written responses. It's so hard. I feel, if I only needed my password for almost 20 years, now why providing them with all my old passwords on the validation form not proof enough that this is my account?
But thank you for those executive names. I will email them today. I really hope this works. To lose these emails from my friend (we were close for 30 years) would be devastating.... :(
 
Jan 14, 2019
17
1
3
36
#10
At some point, everyone will have an issue with their email, no matter who they utilize. Important emails need to be backed up. I use three email addresses, segregated by certain criteria. For important emails that I value, I forward them to two of my addresses and delete the original. I give them a subject line that allows me to find them again. l save them under various subjects. This sounds tedious, but it probably takes 20 seconds. Several times over the years, especially with emails related to travel, I have been able to open a folder, alphabetize it and pull up whatever info I want. Occasionally I go in and clean it all up. I really, really hate not being able to put my hands on information immediately.
Yes, I do this now with my gmail. But to be honest, when I got this hotmail it was almost 20 years ago. It was at the dawn of all this email stuff, and moving over all the important ones would be hundreds by this point. It's 20 years worth of stuff. But I think if I gain access I will do what was suggested and download it all with a secondary program. I never knew such things existed. :)
 

AMA

Verified Member
Dec 11, 2014
1,078
1,339
113
#11
Microsoft switched over to outlook.com emails two years ago. Unless you specifically requested to remain as a hotmail.com address, they switched you over to outlook. I know this because I, too, have an ancient hotmail address, but I use it all the time. Have you tried accessing your account using your email address but outlook.com instead? They may have just deactivated you because you don't log in frequently enough. Edit: I mean, dave@outlook.com rather than dave@hotmail.com
 
Likes: jsn55
Jan 14, 2019
17
1
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#12
Microsoft switched over to outlook.com emails two years ago. Unless you specifically requested to remain as a hotmail.com address, they switched you over to outlook. I know this because I, too, have an ancient hotmail address, but I use it all the time. Have you tried accessing your account using your email address but outlook.com instead? They may have just deactivated you because you don't log in frequently enough. Edit: I mean, dave@outlook.com rather than dave@hotmail.com
Thanks for the reply

I just tried to make it @outlook.com just now but it didn’t recognize it. The help desk did confirm my hotmail address was still active as an account, so at least that is good. If only that! Lol
 

jsn55

Verified Member
Dec 26, 2014
7,935
7,823
113
San Francisco
#13
Thanks for the reply

I just tried to make it @outlook.com just now but it didn’t recognize it. The help desk did confirm my hotmail address was still active as an account, so at least that is good. If only that! Lol
That's the right attitude, Starlight! Just keep plugging away and eventually you'll get there. Technology today is a wonderful thing ... until you get in a situation like yours.
 
Likes: StarLight2019
Jan 14, 2019
17
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#14
That's the right attitude, Starlight! Just keep plugging away and eventually you'll get there. Technology today is a wonderful thing ... until you get in a situation like yours.
Is it weird they never rolled this account over/ I wonder why it slipped through the cracks
 
Sep 20, 2018
18
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#20
For example, often times when I was young I would use an alias name and alias bday when setting up emails to protect my privacy on the web. Nowadays I don't bother. But, trying the right combination of some of these answers is hard, and being that they only let you submit one validation form a day, it could take forever.
It sounds like this is your problem. You supplied fake information way back when (which is not an unreasonable thing to do), and your incorrect answers trying to guess at what you used are simply indistinguishable from the efforts of a hacker trying to pry open an account that's not theirs.

If a password is all I needed in the past to gain access to an account, why do I now need to answer questions to answers I gave 19 years ago. It is a broken system, and the consumers are being punished.
Requiring more information to restore account access after a lockout is a standard security measure that most websites use. You need to answer those very old questions because you haven't gone in and updated them, which is an option they, and pretty much everybody, offers.

With whomever you select to be your new e-mail provider, make sure you set up and maintain, the account recovery options.