Should the worst happen and you find yourself completely locked out of your account - whether you’ve forgotten your password and the reset mechanism isn’t working, or if a hacker has somehow gained access and changed the password (help prevent this by setting up 2 Step Verification) - then don’t panic!
You should still be able to get back into your account, even if it may take a few days.
Most major websites have well established processes for dealing with this problem. It could be a fairly simple case of answering some security questions over the phone, or you may have to mail them some proof of identity, but you should be able to regain access as long as you can prove that the account is rightfully yours.
If the account that you're locked out of isn't shown above then do a search on their website (or failing that, on a search engine) for how to recover forgotten passwords or report a hacked account.
Prevent it happening again
Being locked out of your account can be annoying! Hopefully you've managed to regain access fairy quickly this time, but it's worth checking the settings on all of your accounts to make regaining access as quick and easy as possible should it ever happen again.
1) Set up extra contact info:
- Adding contact details, such as a phone number or extra email address, can help you prove your identity if you ever find yourself locked out.
- Remember to review these regularly in case your details change.
2) Trusted Friends:
- Facebook also offers a "Trusted Friends" feature, where you nominate 3 (or more) friends to prove your identity and help you regain access.
- Don’t worry, Facebook have checks in place to stop cheeky friends from abusing this and getting access to your account without your permission!
3) Recovery codes:
- Recovery codes are effectively a secondary (long and complex) password that you keep securely locked up (in the care of your solicitor for example) and use to reset your main password.
- You must make sure you look after this code and treat it at least as securely as you would any other password.
Take a look in the "Account" or "Security Settings" sections of your favourite websites - see what they recommend and if there’s anything you can set up today.
You might also be interested in what happens to our online accounts when we die. A little forward planning now can save our loved ones a lot of hassle later on.