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Disclaimer: More rant than blog. Though there are valuable travel tips and my new contact email at the end!

Granted, a traveler’s worst nightmare would probably be more along the lines of being detained in Egypt, or locked up and deported from Indonesia, however for THIS traveler, blocking and continuing to deny access to my email account ranks pretty highly with one of the worst things which could possibly happen abroad.

With flight and hotel confirmations, itinerary information, thousands of contacts, vouchers for current competitions on my site, and ongoing conversation threads with clients and tourism boards – losing it all has been a pretty big nightmare.

A Traveler’s Worst Nightmare: Blocked From Email Communication

As with all great stories, this one begins in Bolivia. Two weeks ago at exactly 7.14am, I sent a quick email home from La Paz airport updating them on my travels.  As inconceivable as this concept is, later that afternoon I attempted to open my email from Chile. 

Apparently the concept of travel is inconceivable.

Apparently the concept of travel is inconceivable.

Again?! Did I mention Outlook blocked access to my email 3 weeks ago while I was traveling through Peru? Though in that instance, I filled in their online verification form with information about my account and had access back within 24 hours. 

Not this time! For reasons that I cannot fathom, this time, the same information which gave me access to my account 3 weeks earlier was denied, and verification failed. I completed so many verification attempts over the course of a week that I finally received an email recommending I move on and open another account.

“Microsoft takes your privacy seriously”. So seriously that it’s impossible to recover access to your own accounts. 

From excessive bitching and complaining about this situation across social media, it turns out a number of people have been recently experiencing issues with outlook blocking their account.

Worst

Worst nightmare. The stress is distracting me from the fact that the Galapagos Islands are right outside my window!

Next step: Chat! To this day, I still don’t understand the point of Microsoft chat representatives, all of whom wasted multiple hours of my time only to tell me the online verification was the only way to regain access, or alternatively I could file a request for support from an Escalation Agent. Did that. They pointed me to the online verification form.

After providing the Escalation Agent with an incredibly detailed description of the problem (online verification had failed and I am currently traveling so phone verification is out), describing the urgency of the issue (all of my business emails are forwarded here and I have flight and hotel confirmations stored which I need for my current travels), and providing bucket loads of accurate information about the account including old passwords, the current password, the date I last changed my password, current and previous personal information, recent contacts I have sent emails to, the content of those emails, the subject lines of those emails, as well as folders within the account, I waited 3 days for an automatic reply directing me to fill out their online verification form. 

If that wasn’t frustrating enough, after politely confirming that online verification had failed, I waited another 3 days for an email recommending I move on and create a new account.

The 72 hour waiting period would have not been an issue if they hadn’t continued to offer me a response within 24 hours. 

Not a happy camper!

Not a happy camper!

No, sorry, I do not understand that the only way to regain access to my account is to prove ownership by submitting a validation request. WHAT IS YOUR DEPARTMENT FOR OTHERWISE????!!!  

Apparently just to waste excessive amounts of my time and rub salt in my wounds.

And, dear Rose, you obviously don’t understand how important it is for me to recover my Microsoft account, because as a travel blogger, this account is an integral part of how I generate income.

It normally stresses me out if I don’t reply to an email within 48 hours (I generally strive for a very clean inbox!), and it kills me that not responding to business emails is probably making me look incredibly unprofessional.

My only consolation is that with the advent of social media, I can fairly easily get the word out that my email access has been blocked – though not to my professional contacts. 

There do, however, remain a few rare species of human being out there who go about their day to day lives without touching social media – like my father, my youngest sister and my grandparents. Probably would have been a good idea to have kept an offline record of their contacts. Especially since at this point it seems like I’m never regaining account access.

The

Amy and dad. The rarest of all human beings.

Never in my life have I heard of someone losing complete access to their email. The situation to me is absurd. After taking to twitter I thought I got a little further – the twitter team @MicrosoftHelps acknowledged that I had 16 years worth of emails, documents and information in my account and forwarded my situation to a high level Escalation Agent.

The twitter team have been the only semi helpful contact throughout this whole ordeal. I promptly received an email from Microsoft Support requesting a reply with additional information for a manual verification. 

That was 4 days ago, and this morning (after tweeting that I was still awaiting a response) I received a completely new email from Microsoft Escalations Support, not acknowledging my previous reply, requesting even further information like my Xbox console ID and SkyDrive private files – which would be great … if I owned an Xbox or had ever purposely stored anything on SkyDrive. 

I give the team on twitter immense credit for their timely responses and actual attempts to resolve customer issues. It’s just a shame that they don’t have the same power as an Escalation Agent. Because they’re the only department who (a) seems to care; and (b) seems to know what the hell is going on.

Lessons Learnt

  • Admittedly (or so I’m told), I should have moved away from hotmail years ago. However Outlook had never given me a reason to move away from the account I have held since the late 1990’s.
  • Travel with a printed copy of your itinerary, including flight and hotel booking confirmations. While we did this partially, apparently I got lazy towards the end and didn’t print out confirmations for the last leg of our trip. Which of course was the leg we needed! Thankfully there hasn’t been an issue with any of our hotel bookings…yet.
  • From here forth I will be setting up automatic forwarding on my email account, so that in the instance my email goes down, I can access a backup email which holds all previous contacts, files, confirmations and correspondence.
  • If you have an issue which is not being resolved, attempt to resolve it by contacting the company on twitter. Twitter is a public line, and everyone tries their darndest in each company to keep people happy as it in the public eye.
  • Hotmail/Outlook does not offer telephone support. In my desperation to find a resolution I googled phone numbers for Microsoft support and ended up speaking with a gentleman from India who tried to make me grant him remote access to my computer in order to unlock my account. Unlikely. Microsoft will NEVER ask you to access your computer. This is a scam.
  • Don’t use hotmail/outlook if you travel. Use gmail instead.
  • If you’re connecting to your email while traveling, use a VPN service like Hotspot Shield. VPN services allow you to re-route your internet traffic through a server in your home country, so as far as email providers are concerned, you’ve tricked them into thinking you haven’t left the country.

How to Contact Me

I lost access to my email account on June 6. Between June 6 and June 12, all “Mapping Megan” emails were being forwarded through to the blocked account.

If you are waiting on a reply to email correspondence please re-send your email to megan@mappingmegan.com. I sincerely apologize for the inconvenience in the delay of response. If you have megan_claire@hotmail.com on file as a contact for me, please delete this and replace it with the above. Non business emails can be sent to meganjerrard@gmail.com.

I’m hanging onto the hope that once I return to the US in 4 weeks I will be able to complete the phone verification and recover my account. You can bet I will be instantly migrating my 16 years worth of contacts to an alternate email provider.

Update: SUCCESS!

24 hours after this post went live my email was recovered and has now been successfully migrated to Gmail. It’s a wonder what a public statement can achieve! A huge thankyou to everyone for your continued support.

Update: A WEEK LATER…

Blocked again, this time in Iceland. Apparently they still don’t understand the concept of travel. Thanking god I migrated everything over to Gmail. At least Gmail allows me to log in from anywhere around the world!

This article has since been sponsored by Hotspot Shield VPN, the app I wish I had been using to avoid this whole mess. 

 About Megan Claire

Megan is an Australian Journalist who has been travelling and blogging around the world for the last 7 years to inspire others to embark on their own worldwide adventure!  Her husband Mike is an American travel photographer, and together they have made the world their home.

Follow their journey on FacebookGoogle+ and Twitter.

    319 Comments

  1. OMG Meg, that’s awful! I have thousands of emails in my account and would probably cry if I got blocked. I can’t even imagine… So sorry this happened to you!

    • Thanks Cory for your support – it means a lot. Not going to lie, I’ve gone through a few mini cycles of both extreme anger followed by anxiety! Pretty good way to ruin a 6 month vacation!

    • Hi Megan and Cory
      Yep, same thing happened to me whilst in Bali.
      What a surprise that people travel and may need access to their email accounts!l!
      These email people are SERIOUS IDIOTS!!!
      Why do they not have a facility for advising pending overseas travel (i.e. like most banks)?
      Yes, it is virtually impossible to recover your account. It’s a sure way to raise blood pressure into the stratosphere if you try!
      I’ve moved on and will never touch HOTMAIL again!

    • I agree with you Damien – in this day it shouldn’t be all that hard to somehow figure out a system which would let people log overseas travel … if banks can work it out you would think tech companies could too!

    • We were on a cruise and had 3 accounts blocked unnecessarily.What a nightmare and financial disaster!

      It seems credit card companies can securely take your money anywhere you travel but the worlds most wealthy companies like Microsoft can abuse its user base and provide no recourse or resolution mechanism

      With no resoltuon mechasim it seems the only approach left if to boycott its services and products.

      Rick and Mary

    • HI Rick & Mary – sorry to hear this has also happened to you. I can’t believe how many people have been commenting on this post with similar issues!! It’s ridiculous how widespread this is and how many people it affects!

      I’m with you 100% – if the credit card companies can figure it out then surely tech companies should be able to, too.

      I hope you managed to enjoy your cruise nevertheless. And I hope you managed to regain access in the end.

      All the best

    • I am having the same problem. We should sue Microsoft, they bought hotmail just to make money and make our lives miserable

    • This is a bad situation that still happing today. I read a newspaper article about this same problem by Steve Alexander (yes I read an actual paper). He references tinyurl.comz5chbsg . Steve give a simple solution. Before you travel turn off the two-step verification. This works for Microsoft,Yahoo, and Goggle. Hope this helps.

      Turn off the two step verification before

    • Thanks for the tip Sam – will give that a go on our next trip 🙂

    • why dont you associate an active security or alternate info like another email address that could be access on a different country? And also I noticed, outlook or hotmail is a free email provided to the people? So I think we should responsible enough to make our own free account secure. I am traveling a lot as well. I use hotmail for a lot of years now. And i can say that I am also getting the same error message or interrupt. Indeed, it is annoying but the reason why you we are getting this one clearly is because we are logging into a different location. And also I think that the system just wants to make sure that it is we, the one accessing the account. (Well, that is obviously stated on the error message). We just need to prove that it is our own account. And also in the first page, it is our own account, we are the only one that can provide or prove our ownersip. Anyways, after all, yeah its awful, bad, or really a nightmare, but guys, think of it. Its a free account, we are not ask to pay for the email account. So what now?

    • Hi Jane

      Thanks for writing in. You of course make good points about the need to secure our own accounts, and that’s why I have written about my experience, to offer that same advice.

      However the problem is that the company does not have an effective process in place to prove that it is your own account, so it’s not easy to recover the email as you say. All of the responses here are from people who have been locked out and denied access to their emails despite filling out the support forms with pages of information about the account, to no avail.

      I too provided old passwords, the current password, the date I last changed my password, current and previous personal information, recent contacts I have sent emails to, the content of those emails, the subject lines of those emails, as well as folders within the account. So you can’t just prove that it is your account. Because it doesn’t work.

      Yes, most of these emails are free accounts, however the companies are still providing a service to the public, and not providing adequate support when things go wrong.

      You would think that with the technology we have access to today, it would be reasonably straight forward to have s proper system for recovery in place.

    • This is happening to me overseas – IT LOOKS LIKE SOMEONE ELSE MIGHT BE USING YOUR ACCOUNT.” I even got the security code and put it in but it still would not let me access my account. Can’t Microsoft understand that this is killing the company?

    • Hi Peter and others,
      I’m not sure if I’ve updated this blog since finding out some more. Still no help from Microsoft, even though I have been trying to obtain an answer since 05-Dec-16.

      Your Microsoft Account will be suspended if it has no valid “account activity”.

      If you create a new Microsoft Account, you have to login to it using a browser within the first 10 days, otherwise it gets suspended.

      If you don’t have any account activity (ie. login on a browser as above) for 270 days, it gets suspended.

      Using your Microsoft Account to login to Skype and making use of Skype is not considered “account activity”. You specifically have to login using a browser once every 270 days.

      All of this info is 3rd hand from various blogs / forums, but I can verify the 10 day rule personally.

    • It’s AWFUL.

      they block them EVERY TIME I travel, which is like every 2-3 month be cause I live in Europe and it’s easy to do a weekend get away. Heck, they even block me just going down the road in my university town. Apparently using schools library wifi alerted them, so did using coffee shop wifi, restaurant wifi, friend’s house wifi….. fml. I’m moving over to gmail

    • Hi Sarah, so sorry that this is consistently happening to you. As you travel a lot, I would definitely recommend Gmail instead. However keep in mind that some people in the comments here have run into similar difficulties with Gmail too, I would recommend setting up as much extra verification as you can, and perhaps you could even start using a VPN, which means you can travel anywhere you want but your computer connects to the internet from a server in your home country – basically tricking it into believing you never left.

      Hope that helps!

    • I am having this exact issue right now. I’m nearly so angry I could cry. My family owns a farm and my business is done through email as well. Not to mention the Search and Rescue team I’m a part of through the sheriffs office. What do I do now? I am in Sweden for 2 weeks. Please offer any advice you may have. Thank you so much! Btw, I’ll be listing my brother’s email for any reply I may receive. He lives here in Sweden. Cheers!

    • Hi Michelle, that sucks, I’m sorry this has affected you too. The first thing I would try is seeing if there’s someone at home who can log in for you – sometimes it might not work overseas, but will work back home at your normal IP. If you have emails set up to forward to your phone, sometimes too you might be able to access them via your phone account but not log in on a desktop.

      Definitely fill in the escalation forms though via outlook, and hopefully they’ll help you regain access again. If all else fails I would take to twitter like I did above and hopefully MicrosoftHelps can put you in touch with an escalation agent with more authority.

      Once you get access again I would put in as many fail safes as you can, like two step verification etc where you can access via a code sent / stored on your phone if you get locked out.

      I hope you get your email back quickly!

    • FOR MICHELLE:
      After working with the new Microsoft Account security arrangements for some months now, I have found that once you unsuspend by getting an SMS code sent to a mobile phone, things get easier. If you have a friend/relative back home that can attempt to login for you, and then receive an SMS code on their mobile phone when prompted, you should be able to get the account unsuspended immediately. Of course, you will have to use normal phone to make this happen while in Sweden.

      If you can receive SMS while in Sweden, you can unsuspend the account yourself.

      We have found that after this has been done once, it is rare that the account gets suspended again. However, it can happen, and all of the advice in this blog will help minimise the chance. In particular, once unsuspended, setup 2-Factor Authentication and you will probably never have an issue again (unless you lose your mobile phone!).

    • Getting a code sent to your phone, only works if your phone works in your new location. Example, my phone is set up for the UK and Europe and does not work in N. America. When I travel home to visit in N. America, the two-step verification is useless.

    • I found recently that Gmail has a cool feature where they give you backup codes as part of two step verification. I have 10 saved to my computer so that if I am stuck, and don’t have my phone, I have a back up code. Not sure if Outlook has the same, though I didn’t see the option when this was happening to me on hotmail.

    • Thanks! This is good news!

  2. Good grief!!! Forget the misery this brings a travel blogger – imagine the nightmare this would be for a military member on a tour of duty, a medical officer with a relief organization who moves around a lot, or someone who had to travel suddenly for a funeral.

    • I know – not a great situation to find yourself in. My problems seem pale in comparison to what you’ve just described – I can’t even begin to imagine the grief in those situations!

  3. Total disaster, and I can totally sympathize having been locked out of my Hotmail before for weeks 🙁 I’m about to publish an article about impt. travel docs including why you need to PRINT THEM OUT- I’ll be sure to forward to you 😉 Haha!

    • Ouch I’m sorry the same thing happened to you – I seriously don’t wish this stress on anyone…except maybe the Microsoft agents who don’t seem to care about the situation in the slightest :D!

      Lol definitely forward me your article when it goes up – I’ll be sure to share!

  4. If this had happened to me while I’d been travelling I would have just sat and cried. I even had print outs of everything I needed, but a lot of the time email was the only way we could communicate with our travel agent. Because the agent who had booked our trip messed a lot of things up, we were having to contact them a lot…

    I hope they give you back your account 🙁

    • Ouch that’s frustrating – sorry to hear that. Hopefully your trip was still memorable and worthwhile in the end.

      I dealy hope so too! Thanks Matilda 🙂

  5. Thank your for this article. Right now I’m in San Felipe traveling and trusted to log into my hotmail account from a friend’s computer and it wanted me to go through a verification process. I didn’t have the patience for it because I was in a slow connection. But like you, I use hotmail to store all my travel docs, itineraries, etc. I well now change that practice.

    • I feel your pain on the slow connection – spent the first week of my email lock-down on Easter Island where the connection was pretty much none. The combination of both wasn’t great for my patience and stress levels!

      I hope you managed to regain access to your account – it’s a horrible feeling to have lost all of your important documents!

  6. This is ridiculous in so many ways!!! I’ve been experiencing similar issues with our yahoo mail account and it beyond frustrating. Every time I send more than 5 emails to people that aren’t contacts it locks me out and makes me reset my password. Your debacle sounds like a nightmare though and I can’t imagine the stress it is causing!!

    • Email providers are getting worse than credit card companies! Though I’ve always managed to unlock my credit cards after a quick call to the company to confirm I am actually traveling abroad. Wish it were that simple with Outlook!

      I hope your Yahoo issues resolve themselves soon – I can imagine how frustrating continual password resets would be!

  7. Ugh! What a nightmare. I moved off of outlook last year for tech issues. Won’t be going back any time soon – or maybe ever.

    • I don’t know if it makes it better to know it’s not just me or makes it worse to know Outlook is generally failing at life!

    • HI, Same problem with Hotmaill for me. Happened today. I’m looking for a replacement. What email service are you new using? Below is my temporary hotmail account.

    • Hi Bill, I’ve been using Gmail ever since, and it’s worked perfectly. A couple of people in the comments section here have mentioned that this does happen with Gmail too, so I recommend setting up as much security and two step verification as possible, recovery phone numbers and email accounts etc, and keeping track of the info in a document on your computer just in case 🙂

      So sorry to hear that you got locked out too 🙁

  8. I feel your pain. Unfortunately these companies provide a service but do not actually help you when you need it. I could tell you some horror stories about Google Adwords and Facebook.

    • Thankfully I haven’t had to experience support for anything other than outlook at this stage. Not sure I want to try and deal with another large scale company’s support departments! I hope you got it all resolved in the end!

  9. Oh that sucks! I’m sorry! Any inclination i had to switch to hotmail is now gone. I’ll stick to my gmail, thanks. Hope it’s resolved soon! 🙁

    • I just found this post because Gmail does the same crap and is just as bad.

    • Hi John, so sorry to hear you’ve been hit by this with Gmail too 🙁 A couple of other people here have said they’ve run into issues with Gmail as well, so I’ve been recommending VPN’s when traveling to access the internet, trick everything into believing you’re logging in from home.

      Hope you regain access to yours soon.

  10. That sucks. This is one of the problems of relying solely on Cloud providers (Microsoft, Gmail, Yahoo, or whoever) to store and backup your data. They are all free services and you get what you pay for. Probably too late for you, but you can backup your email and contacts locally using Windows Live Mail 2012. Good luck!

    • Very true – thankfully I recovered access today! Have migrated everything over to gmail and set up a forwarding on my gmail so that I have everything in a backup account should anything go sour in the future. Will look into Windows Live Mail though – thanks Joel!

  11. That’s horrible!! I hope you are able to get access1-I don’t know what I would do if I lost access to my hotmail. I use gmail for business primarily, but everything else is hotmail. I think I might need to change It all now though!!

    • Thanks Jenna – success! Recovered access today! Wondering if the blog post being published was a coincidence in timing!! Hopefully you won’t experience any issues with yours – but I would definitely take measures to back it up 🙂

  12. Holy fraking hell Meg. What a total sh!t. I hear ya on this being one of the worst travel disasters EVA. I am so sorry. I hope the problem is fixed and you can gain access to your account to transfer everything over. I shall cross my fingers and toes for a speedy resolution. 🙂

    • Thanks for crossing your fingers and toes…totally worked!! I regained access earlier this afternoon and everything is now switched over to Gmail. Lol everything now exists in two separate Gmail accounts just in case I lose my main one…again!

      Thanks Anna!

  13. Omg, Megan, this whole situation is ridiculous! But I totally understand what are you going through – I was dealing with o2 to connect my DLS Internet for 4 months after signing the contract with them. They refused to sell me a portable USB Internet stick too and when I asked for the reason they couldn’t state anything making sense. So I was left with my mobile connection only…

    I really hope Microsoft will see this post and react properly!

    • Ouch that sounds horrible! What is with these companies!! I swear service is only getting worse as the years go by and we become more “advanced”.

      It appears they saw the post, because within a day guess who had an email from Microsoft support to recover my email! It would appear publicity works wonders!! Thanks for your support 🙂

    • You post very interesting articles here.

  14. That is utterly crap – I’d be devastated too!

    I am not sure gmail is much safer though. I remember reading another big blogger lost her google account suddenly for no reason. It wasn’t just her email gone either, she also stored heaps of things on google drive and google docs. Very very scary.

    • Ouch really?! Well I got my hotmail access back yesterday after the post went live, so have migrated everything to Gmail and have set up an automatic forwarding so that if it does go down I have everything backed up on another email account!

      It really is so scary!

  15. Good tips Megan! Same deal on hotmail, here in Thailand and India too. I stick to gmail primarily. Thanks!

    • Good to know – thanks Ryan! Seems like Outlook really just can’t get it right! Sticking to Gmail from now on – I’m now part of the club lol!

  16. Wow, that REALLY sucks, Megan! I’m so sorry you had to go through all of that.

  17. OMG, I wanted to tear my hair out for you just reading that! I got locked out of my Flickr account the same way, although that was WAY less urgent than email. Bureaucracy is the most ridiculous BS ever.

    • Bureaucracy really IS the biggest BS ever!! I’m sorry to hear about your Flickr account – but even that’s stressful when you’re traveling and only have a certain amount of time to share with and update people back home.

      I hope you recovered your access in the end!

  18. What a nightmare! The whole situation is ridiculous! I Hope it all works out soon!

    • Thanks Karisa! Thankfully we have now recovered the account – WOOT!! Thanks for your support – it was a hectic two weeks there :S!

  19. It sounds like a nightmare Megan.

    As a long term international traveller (> dozen years) I’ve experienced this a few times with various providers.

    Whilst I don’t really use G-Mail it has been suggested to me as a more reliable alternative.

    I have hotmail as my personal e-mail and use a few Yahoo accounts. Yahoo tends to be quite temperamental and locks me out a few times and now wants me to change my password again.

    I also download e-mails periodically to a Zimbra Desktop so I can look at and work on e-mails whilst offline (on planes etc).

    I would suggest that you use your @mappingmegan.com e-mail address. Even though they are redirected you should still be able to see them through your web host.

    Your story certainly doesn’t endorse Microsoft in a good light. They really need to be more responsive than this and actually appreciate the real urgency and value of e-mail to people. They’d certainly be furious and their business suffer if someone switched off their access and they were powerless to do something about it.

    I also hate the fact that when you have limited time, say half an hour or an hour to do something these unexpected surprises arise. You just waste all your limited time trying to fix something rather than being productive. Only earlier this week I spent a few hours in touch with Google trying to resolve a problem with their Keyword Tool. It was all Google’s fault but it was the same feeling of powerlessness and frustration.

    • It has been a fair bit of a nightmare! Starting to get the hang of Gmail though and loving it as an alternative. Thanking God too because hotmail just blocked me for the second time after we arrived in Iceland.

      Mike has had a few issues with Yahoo as well, but he’s never actually been locked out – just keeps getting requests for password changes.

      I really would love for Microsoft to experience this for themselves – I wouldn’t wish that kind of stress on my worst enemy lol but maybe on the incompetent fools who didn’t give a damn when I needed support … might put it into perspective a bit for them 😀

      Thanks for your support 🙂

  20. It does sounds like quiet a nightmare!

    • Sigh it was so stressful! Sad how much of our lives are attached to something so silly!

  21. Fffffffrrrruustrating. I`d be making holes in walls and spending my hours drunk ranting to strangers about the evils of technology.

    You seem like you have a cool head on your shoulders, which is a virtue.

    • Worst part of it was I was in Easter Island for the majority of the time it was blocked, which meant my internet access was nearly non existent anyway. Lol so I’m frustrated by Outlook and frustrated by the fact that it takes 20 minutes for anything to load. I spent a lot of the time sulking!!

  22. The same thing happened to my brother with his hotmail account and he never regained access. It is pretty crazy that this could even happen! I use Hotmail, have done for years, and had never considered changing before (I don’t find gmail very user friendly) but perhaps I should now.

    • WOW I can’t believe he never regained access! Lol does he want me to write a ranting blog post for him? … apparently they’re quite effective :D!!

      I don’t find Gmail super user friendly either, but I’m making myself learn – I think it’s one of those things where I’m so used to hotmail that I don’t enjoy changing to someone who does things differently!! Though I’m sure after a few months I’ll be fine 🙂

  23. I have gotten locked out of my Yahoo account when traveling. Since this is actually happening, they should offer an option like banks have – where you can let them know in advance you will be traveling.

    Incidentally, when I have gotten locked out of Yahoo, I can still access it on my phone. So weird, so annoying.

    • They SHOULD! That’s seriously a great idea – and I actually wrote this to them in one of my many emails to support. Because while getting access back is great, I’m still going to be traveling for the next few months so chances are I’ll probably lose it all over again in a week once we hit another country!

      So weird that you can access it on your phone but not the actual account. I should have tried that actually! Noted for next time!

  24. I understand your need for connectivity. That’s very important when your livelihood depends on it. But, there are many times I wish I could escape it. I dread the day e-mail and (worse) phone calls are commonplace in airplanes, my last refuge. There will be murder the first flight next to an obnoxious caller…

    • I’m constantly fantasizing about a life where I could just travel the world and not feel the need to share every single moment instantly or be thinking about reply emails as opposed to enjoying the moment! Trying to get a little better with my technology addiction but alas I think it’s here to stay!

      I do enjoy being forced to switch off when inflight though. And I agree – we will most likely see that news headline for the first flight next to an obnoxious caller!!

  25. I couldn’t imagine getting locked out of my email account. I definitely need to set up a backup account just to be safe. Glad everything turned out okay in the end though. 🙂

    • Highly recommend a backup – twice now I’ve been locked out! Thankfully now, the second time it’s happened, I’ve migrated everything over so I’m past caring about hotmail!! The most ridiculous thing I’ve ever heard!

  26. Hi Megan,
    My name is Scott and I’m a lead in the Microsoft account support team. I wanted to apologize for the bad experience you had and let you know the work we’ve done to prevent situations like this. We’re always listening and working to improve the experience. This post in particular has been read and discussed by some of the most senior people here at Microsoft.

    Hacking is a global problem that affects all the major email providers. We all try to detect when an account has been hacked and work to prevent the bad guys from accessing your private information.
    There are a couple of steps you can take to ensure you never get locked out of your account no matter how broadly you travel.

    Alternate Emails and Phones
    Ensure you have several alternate emails and associated to your account and a phone. If there is ever a login that looks questionable, we can simply send a code to your alternate email so you can prove that new login from Nigeria is actually you and not someone who has stolen your password.

    It gets better… Trusted Devices
    When you enter the code, there is a checkbox “I sign in on this device frequently”. This marks your device as trusted and gives us a high confidence that the login is you.

    Authenticator Apps
    If you tend to use friends’ computers or internet cafés when traveling, you can add a little app to your smartphone that always and instantly shows you a valid security code. These apps don’t send or receive any data, so you can use them in total airplane mode. Many people haven’t heard of authenticator apps before, but they are an industry standard and becoming more popular. We think it’s a great tip for anyone who travels and logs into their email abroad.

    If you’re already on the road…
    The scenario I’ve seen and that looks like got you was having just one way to get a security code on your account (a phone in this case) and not having access to that while traveling. Ideally we recommend you have several options so you have a backup, but I’ve actually helped a few people get fixed up while overseas by having them ask their roommate, family member, or even the friend who swings by to water the plants to grab the code off their phone back home and get it to them. They can then add an alternate email or setup their smart phone to ensure they don’t get stuck again.

    To get started with any of these options, just sign into https://account.live.com and click “Security and password”.

    Hope that helps give your readers some good tips for using their Microsoft account when traveling.

    Scott

    • Hi Scott

      Thankyou for your detailed response, and for taking the time to read through this article and leave a reply. I appreciate it, and I’m glad to hear the article is being discussed by senior members at Microsoft. Hopefully the team can work to increase the ease of account recovery, and raise awareness amongst your support departments as to the various approaches to recovering an account.

      The above suggestions are great and I will be looking into establishing as much security and back up plans for my email accounts in the future.

      Sadly I have my phone with me on the road and do not have reception internationally, which causes issues for phone verification.

      Thankyou again for taking the time to respond.

    • Scott, you should take a step back and read what you are saying. What about the basic user that doesn’t have multiple devices, email accounts, or even a cell phone? Your company has implemented security features that completely cripple anyone in this situation from accessing their email when travelling. Not everyone wants this added security. Did it ever occur to you to offer this as an option? My mother has had this happen to her multiple times and your company refuses to provide her access until she goes home. Very poor customer focus in my opinion. Did you ever consider your customer base before rolling out these added “features” or have you become so inwardly focused that isn’t important to you?

    • Thanks for sharing your experience also Cathy, I’m so sorry to hear this has happened to your mother over and over again. It really is just so completely crippling, though I think the most crippling aspect is the complete lack of customer service which is available.

      I hope your continuing issues cease soon. I would try and get your mum on over to Gmail – from this thread and the comments in it it seems like some people have had similar issues, though Gmail seems to be the lesser of the email evils at this stage!!

    • But Scott, Can’t one set up a Recovery Code IN ADVANCE? BEFORE leaving on a trip???

    • Ok now THAT’s a smart idea! Totally behind it!

    • IN RESPONSE TO SCOTT:
      An actual Microsoft support person! They do exist!
      Scott, I would dearly love to talk to you on the phone. These issues are still occurring, worse than even now. I cannot tell how much stress and money this has cost my business, and Microsoft are unable to help. Maybe you can?
      I’m not sure how we get in touch through this blog though. I have ticked the box to send me an email if anyone updates this blog.

    • Hi Karl, I’ll let you know if I find a contact for a Microsoft support person as well – we haven’t heard from Scott since his initial comment here, but will keep you updated if we do.

      Sorry to hear you’re going through this too 🙁

    • Thanks Meg! Great to hear from you. It’s funny, with 30 years of IT experience, I can fix just about anything, but this is not a technical issue, it is a policy issue. With any other company, you’d call them, identify yourself with some security questions, and they would fix it for you. Microsoft will hopefully follow the same path after this and many other negative blogs. Recovering an account via emails and online forms over several days is unworkable.

    • Absolutely agree with you – if they’re offering a service to the public, they should have proper support in place.

    • Hmmm. Scott, you are not quite right about Trusted Devices. Trusted Devices DO NOT PREVENT ACCOUNT SUSPENSION. Every device I use has had the Trusted Device box ticked, and it has not prevented a single Suspension occurrence. When I go to a Trusted Device after a Suspension, I still cannot gain access without a mobile phone SMS code, even though I’m on a Trusted Device. And no other options are provided – it’s mobile phone SMS only after a Suspension. When you tick the Trusted Device box, you are supposedly ticking an option that says “Don’t ask me for a code again on this device”. But it’s a fib! My account gets Suspended (don’t know why) and I still get asked for a code on that device. Trusted Device is useless.

    • Yes, the trusted device feature would be amazing if it did actually work. I wonder if it’s actually more of a “trusted IP address” thing as opposed to a device itself.

  27. Perfect! Since you carry your phone with you, install the Authenticator app. It will instantly show you a code and you’ll never get locked out of your account! It doesn’t require any connection to phone or data, so it always just works. Outlook has some of the best security and use features out there. There is no reason you should ever get locked out of your account and just as important, these features keep criminals from getting into your account.

    Scott
    Microsoft Corp.

    • Scott, once we get a security passcode, can we use this for future travels outside the US or do we have to get a security passcode everytime we travel outside the US?

    • Milany, I believe you obtain a new code when you find yourself locked out of your account. So you would need to use the authenticator app each time, though only when locked out.

    • I’m stuck in Mexico right this minute locked out of my account for no reason other than I logged in from a hotel wifi. I opened this account heaven only knows how many years ago, and I didn’t even remember that I had an alternate email address associated with my account OR that it just happened to be an account I ONLY USED on rare occasions and THEY cancelled my account for not logging in over a 3 month period. So in the end it seems I will lose ALL my contacts, ALL my pictures that were on both accounts, as well as NOT having my travel itinerary and vouchers either. I did the account recovery and it was unlocked yesterday but I was so tired that I couldn’t find where to shut this ridiculous double security crap OFF and OPT OUT of all their wonderful help or to add a new backup email – although the backup email is what they used to send me the verification code. I have pictures and emails from my dead mother on this account – needless to say I’m not pleased right at the moment. So Mr. Microsoft person, if you can help me get access to my account I would be eternally grateful. I ended up in tripe jeopardy. My phone which is supposed to have access in Mexico won’t work. My security backup for my BANK happens to be my HOTMAIL ACCOUNT. So if I weren’t traveling with my brother I would be stranded in a foreign country with no money, no phone, and no way to survive. MICROSOFT YOU NEED TO FIX THIS MESS.

    • Hi Cece, I’m so sorry to hear that you’re having trouble with your accounts as well – I feel your anger and frustration!

      What I’ve recommended to others is to see if you can contact someone from home to try and log in – sometimes it works when the IP address is from the city where you normally log in.

      Keep sending in reports to escalation agents until you get a response, and if you have an account on twitter I do recommend sending a couple of tweets to Microsoft Support. (@MicrosoftHelps) Once I took my situation to a public forum like twitter they replied pretty quickly and put me in touch with an agent who actually did help.

      I hope you regain access to your account soon XXX

  28. My wife is traveling overseas and got locked out of both of her accounts. Unfortunately, she is nearly computer illiterate (which Microsoft has limited concept of with regards to their users). Luckily, I could access her main account from here and review her recent activity and click the ‘It was me’ buttons. Her other account (which is still registered in the country she is traveling in) only has her cell number for authentication, which she has with her but it is not usable.I’ll have to wait 30 days to re-authenticate that account. I’m still not sure if my efforts will let her into either account, but with her mom in the hospital for surgery and the reliability of overseas calls being sometimes spotty, I feel like I’m back in the 20th century.

    All that needs to be done is to add an ‘I will be traveling’ feature that Microsoft could point to with a plausible excuse: “I’m sorry you cannot access your account, be sure to set up the ‘Travelers Access’ feature next time before you leave”.

    • I had the same problem – I had my cell phone with me but because I was overseas it was unusable. Usable in the sense that I could access wifi off it, but no reception signal for cell use.

      So sorry to hear about your mother-in-law in surgery. I’ll be praying for you and hope she pulls through ok.

      Totally agree!! I don’t see why there can’t be a travelers access feature – the same as with Banks. You call and let them know you’re traveling and not to put a block on your credit cards – easy and simple!

  29. A friend of mine has that issue every time she crosses the border to the US without fail. As soon as she is back in Canada it works again without any verification.
    I have traveled with her my hotmail account is never stopped even though my hotmail account was hacked once a few years back.
    There is no fathoming Microsoft reasoning on how or why they do this. Your arrival was great. Will forward it to
    My friend.

    • That’s so random! Like I can understand why I would have been flagged to begin with for jumping around South America so much in a short period of time, but surely Canada – the US shouldn’t be an issue!

      And especially annoying for her how it happens to her but not you lol sigh – I would love to hear the reasoning!

      Glad you enjoyed the post – though sorry you could relate!

  30. Thanks for the post Megan. I’ve had the same problem while traveling. I lucked out cause I have a Yahoo account too, which I was able to access. However its entirely possible that Yahoo will also block me in the future. Researching how to get around this problem got me to this post.

    Note to Microsoft in case you are still following this post. You guys assume several things – that everyone has a high degree of computer literacy, that everyone has a smart phone, that everyone carries said smart phone while traveling, that everyone’s said smart phone is connected and actually works in a foreign country (you should know that there are varied and intricate laws regarding cell phone usage in foreign countries which often make it difficult for travelers to use their own mobile devices). You give users only two options to access a blocked account. An email verification and a mobile phone verification. Both options depend on flawed assumptions. Can you guarantee that my alternate email provider will not have the same security protocol that you follow? If all email providers follow the same protocol whats the point in having an alternate email add? ’cause if Yahoo is my alternate and they block me as well how the heck can anyone provide authentication? Second you ask us to provide our mobile phone numbers but there’s no certainty that everyone carries their local mobile phones while traveling internationally. I personally prefer to obtain a local phone and/or Sim card while traveling.

    • Thanks Sam, and I do hope Microsoft is still following the post as you make several very valid points.

      Sadly at the point in time when this happened I only used one email account, however this has now changed – I did switch over to gmail in the end, and have everything which comes through automatically forwarded to a secondary email account just in case so I can access everything if it goes down.

      And I’m right there with you on the phone. We were away for 4 months and my phone was switched off for the vast majority of the time because I really didn’t have a use for it while overseas. I know many people don’t travel with their phone out of fear of racking up ridiculous international roaming charges.

      I hope this post helped a little with your research – I would highly recommend setting up an automatic forwarding just in case. It would have saved me a lot of frustration!

  31. I gave up using Yahoo/Hotmail or ISP provided email accounts a long time ago owing to their ever evolving about-turns, or simply going out of business or being taken over in the case of some ISPs. I have my own domains and therefore access to my own email servers. Pretty much I control access and this has proven invaluable when travelling.

    I do though have a Gmail account, which I tend to use when registering on websites etc and its surprisingly been very reliable over the years. So credit where it’s due.

    As for Microsoft, I’ve always been a fan, but not so much now. I’m currently locked out of my Skydrive/Live Account and repeated attempts to discover why have merely elicited responses such as “We are not able to discuss the specific details on your account closure.”. Often their responses, if they do arrive, are days apart and ALWAYS unhelpful. Meanwhile, I cannot access any of their services, my data is effectively lost (and may potentially never be restored) and my Windows phones are quickly becoming unusable – they won’t update and some apps won’t work without an active login.

    Using cloud based and integrated services are a truly neat idea in principle, but until Microsoft can resolve problems in minutes/hours instead of their current weeks/months/never they simply have no business operating in this sphere. It’s a fraud to pretend otherwise. I have lost access to absolutely everything and yet I’m not one single step nearer to understanding why? Support requests go around in circles and no one at Microsoft has offered a solution, an explanation or apology. This is totally unacceptable in the day of the smartphone.

    I’m sorry folks, but I really wouldn’t recommend them currently. Scott above tells us back in June that issues like these are receiving attention from upon high but from my chair nothing has changed almost 6 months later. In fact, they’re having the same problems now as they did in 2009 and will probably be having in 2019.

    • Access to your own email servers sounds like it would solve all of these issues. Though as you mentioned, I’ve also been impressed with Gmail since switching over after having written this post. Gmail seems to have it figured out – thank lord!

      I’m so sorry to hear you are having so many issues with windows. The system of support really does just go round and round in circles and it’s absolutely ridiculous. I lost my temper many times over the week it took me to get access to my email back just because of the lack of care which was translated from microsoft.

      I feel your pain trust me! It’s horrible to have complete trust in a company to store all of your most valuable data and media to then have that trust shattered and lose everything.

      I truly hope your issues see resolve quickly.

    • Well said! And you are right nothing has changed. I’m writing this in May 2015 and have been trying to help my mother get access to her account while she visits family for three weeks to no avail. Scott’s message seams to be just more lip service about how they can help. Maybe they sat around and discussed it and had a good laugh about how anyone that tries to contact them can’t. No phone support. Limited chat support – only direct you to log a ticket, then they just keep replying to the ticket telling you to complete the form, and get another automated reply saying you failed again. Wont’ tell you what information is lacking, although I’m fairly certain all information was valid, no access. All scripted responses, no customer focus. I have been a customer of hotmail and now outlook for many years, but I’m going to gmail and encourage everyone to do the same. I will encourage all of my friends and family to lose the Outlook accounts as well. We live in a global community now, where people regularly travel and Microsoft thinks people shouldn’t access their email when they are 300 miles from home. Amazing.

    • Oh absolutely – totally agree with you Cathy, and I’ve honestly been blown away by how many hits I’ve had on this post and how many people have left comments over the last year even up until today because they’ve experiences similar issues too. It’s absolutely absurd how widespread this is!

      And the most crippling thing past losing access to your email is actually the complete lack of customer service. It’s frustrating beyond all belief and really does feel like a slap in the face when the scripted responses come through because it’s like they just don’t care.

      I highly recommend jumping ship from Outlook, and I hope you sort out the issues with your mothers account soon XX

  32. Like so many have said, I also had this problem recently while in Japan. And, like you, I have had my hotmail account for many years and accessed it from many Asian countries, including the exact IP address in Tokyo. I did not have my phone with me and did not remember any of my contacts e-mail addresses, and could not in my jet lagged state, remember much at all in order to fill out the verification properly. Luckily I was able to use my work e-mail to contact someone who in turn contacted my family, etc. for me. I came home fully expecting my e-mail to be gone forever and yet it works fine on my home computer.

    I take Microsoft’s point that they are protecting us but there has to be a better way of verification. Really what is the use of this global technology, if we are unable to use it?

    I, too, am changing over to gmail and yet I wonder if it will be any better while traveling. I look forward to future blogs from you, Megan, to see if it works for you.

    • Gmail has proven to be a lot more reliable for me when traveling now that I’ve made the change – I am a lot happier, though by that same token have also set up automatic forwarding so that I don’t get stuck in the same situation again and can always have access to my emails should one account go down!

      I highly recommend this also. I’m so glad you managed to contact family through your work email and get everything sorted out in the end.

      Totally agree though – what’s the use of global technology if we can’t use it, indeed!!

  33. I’m currently travelling again and am having the same problem. As soon as i have the time i’m going to sort out my Emails and make a new Gmail account. Then microsoft can f#@% the hell off. microsoft is a bad name in my world now. I never want to use their products or services again. Like you though, i have had my Email for about 15 years. But honestly, the sentimental value is second to my hate for microfoft right now.

    • I’m so sorry to hear this is happening to you as well 🙁 Highly recommend making a gmail account, and when you do get access to hotmail back, set up a forwarding – it’s worked seamlessly for me.

      Agree that the sentimental value is second to an actually functioning email. In today’s day and age the technology should be there for it to function efficiently no matter where you are in the world.

      I hope you get your access back.

  34. Hotmail blocked my access from Ubud in Indonesia a week ago, although 2 days earlier it had allowed access from Sanur, also in Indonesia. As a result I was not able to contact an Indonesian friend who was going to take us out for the day. I created a new Hotmail account and with it tried to email my son to see if he could log in for me from Adelaide, but Hotmail refused to send my email from this newly-created address. It demanded a verification code that was supposedly sent to my mobile phone (which was back in Adelaide), but when I got home there was no verification code. I was using my Netbook for logging in, the very same netbook I am using now from home. Does Hotmail seriously think I would have lost my netbook in Indonesia, with my Hotmail user name and password on a postit stuck on to it? I am going to switch to gmail, as my husband never has this type of problem.

    • It’s so sporadic it’s not funny! Same thing with my situation – it had allowed me access from Peru while in Paracas, but once we got to Machu Picchu it had a tantrum and locked me out.

      I’m so sorry it screwed up your itinerary and plans to meet your friend – that’s truly horrid. It’s sad how much we rely on access to our email without even knowing until it’s taken away from us!

      I think that it should surely be able to track IP addresses or something so that at least if you’re traveling with your laptop and accessing from the same computer it’s fine.

      But yes, definitely recommend gmail – it’s been a very smooth and stress free platform ever since I made the transition. Highly recommend. It’ll take a few days to get used to the different layout, but my god it’s worth it!

      Merry Christmas 🙂

  35. I think I am going to go insane. I work as an international consultant and have travelled to 4 different countries in the space of 2 weeks, and I think if I see a verify you account again I am going to scream! I haven’t see my e-mails for days!

    • Ahk!!! I feel your pain. I’m so sorry that this is happening to you as well – that completely sucks.

      After you regain access to your account I highly recommend gmail – it’s been fantastic so far and I’ve had absolutely no problems using it while traveling. As soon as I regained access to my hotmail account I set up a forwarding to my gmail so everything comes through and I never have to log in to be locked out again!!

      I really hope they restore your email for you soon – such a horrible thing to have happen especially over Christmas.

      Happy holidays xxx

  36. This is the exact same thing I am going through right now (the phone they want to verify is even a very old cell number I no longer have). The CS from Microsoft is nonexistent, choose another service to use instead!

    • It’s ridiculous that so many people are having the same problem! On one hand I’m kind of glad it’s not just me, and that I obviously had a rant about something which is actually fairly poor, though on the other hand I’m so sorry you guys are all experiencing the same thing. It sucks.

      I’m yet to find issue with Gmail, so highly recommend their service. Happy New Year – I hope the year improves for you!!

  37. Omg I totally feel your pain! I thought hotmail was accessible anywhere in the world as well… I’m also from Australia and I’m currently in America and when I tried to access my email I was denied, they asked me to confirm my email through my other hotmail address which also I can’t access because I’m overseas… So I thought I’d create a new one so I could at least give my hotels that one so I had something at least… That was in Orlando, now I’m stuck in Dallas trying to get to Hawaii and I tried emailing my travel agent through my new address and BAM! We have detected a problem with your account, please log in on a computer… I don’t have one with me… What a pain in the bum!! Looks like I will also be going over to Gmail for next time I travel! This is rediculous!

    • Yuk – I’m so sorry to hear about your email issues as well – absolutely ridiculous that this is affecting so many people!

      I hope it’s not actually meant you’ve missed flights or hotel confirmations – luckily we had double ups of all of our travel documents on my husbands email on yahoo, though the thing which really pissed me off the post was just the lack of empathy from the support centre when calling to fix the issue.

      Definitely recommend the switch over to Gmail – I’ve not experienced any issues since switching 🙂

    • Download Tor Browser and then change the IP address so that you appear to be in your home country.

    • Interesting. Thanks for the tip!

  38. Just need to add that gmail might be better (have not used hotmail) but have also experienced having my Gmail account blocked because of travelling. My partner and I had been travelling for about 2 weeks when ‘suddenly’ our Gmail logins were not supported. We were not travelling with our phones (which would have managed the 2nd verification OK) and had to come up with a workaround via other email accounts. In my case it was my work email, which required downloading weeks of unread mail to find this particular entry! Not ideal but got there…. wasted a rather precious hour of internet access in a school library in the remote town of Wrangall in Alaska – would have preferred to have enjoyed a bit of an online catchup!

    So please be aware that gmail can also be affected by travelling. Ensure you have multiple alternative authentication options available or at least one that can be reasonably guaranteed to work for you while travelling – otherwise a nasty surprise.

    Another strategy is to save copies of any essential travel documents to another cloud storage provider (eg dropbox or similar) rather than forward everything. A discipline to do this well, but worth it under pressure.

    • Thanks for your input Marlene – I guess no system is 100% fool proof – I’m so sorry you experienced those issues with gmail. The problem for us is we rarely travel with a phone anymore, so when something like this does happen it can be frustrating.

      Great tips on backing essential documents up in online storage – since my hotmail went down I’ve been utilizing dropbox and Google drive and these have been fabulous resources.

      Have also set up an email forward so that i have a replica of my whole inbox in yahoo as well; hopefully this will prevent stress if the situation occurs again in the future 🙂

      Safe travels, & thanks for sharing your experience!

  39. Just back from Dubai – received emails could not send. Couldn’t verify as last two digits of mobile they were going to send verification code to didn’t related to my mobile.

    • Lynette I’m so sorry to hear you’re also having issues – I hope you manage to get it sorted out now that you’re back at home. If you’re still having issues with your phone, try and tweet outlook support if you have a twitter account – they were the most helpful in terms of providing support and making sure someone followed up on my issue for me.

    • I lost access to my Hotmail account traveling in Asia recently. Have been arguing with Microsoft ever since.

      Is there any mail that serves a traveler?

      Also, have you noticed that if you use Internet banking to pay your bills while abroad and might have to add a payee, the same problem arises?

      HELP!

    • Hi Kersti

      Sorry to hear this is happening to you too – I completely understand how frustrating it is!!! I just wanted to hit things when it happened to me!!! I’ve since switched to Gmail no problems – a few people have left comments saying that the same thing can happen on Gmail too though so just in case Ive set up a forwarding so that I have everything in a separate Gmail account as well as a Yahoo account absolute worst case. Probably a bit overboard but I want back ups and to maximize my likelihood of access now that I’ve been through that horrible ordeal of potentially having lost everything.

      So that’s what I would suggest – set up a Gmail and then set up an automatic forwarding to keep a copy of your inbox on another platform just in case. Do also set up the two step verifications like phone access and a secondary email contact as sometimes you can get through that system.

      I hadn’t noticed that re internet banking, but that definitely sucks!!! I have found however that banks are pretty good with customer service when you call from abroad so definitely give them a shout and I’m sure you’ll find they’re more responsive than Microsoft re your email.

      I hope it all gets sorted out for you soon X

  40. My last three trips abroad I ended up with blocked hotmail access. I migrated everything important over to Gmail, no more issues. Glad everything ended up okay!

    • Ouch that’s horrible – I’m glad you migrated over to Gmail in the end; I haven’t had any issues since migrating either. I’m glad everything turned out ok in the end for you as well, but man, three times is rough!! I feel for you!

  41. Stumbled upon your story and so feel for, and agree with you. I can understand that when you travel a lot like you do, that this is so… unhelpful. The argument that some could voice though is that your situation is exceptional, because you travel a lot/ continuously, so you aren’t “an average user”.
    Well, let me share why I think this is a rubbish argument.
    I too had a Hotmail address which I cherished because I’d it since the 90s. And in the beginning, when MicroSoft started with this verification madness, it sounded like a good service. After all, nobody wants others to get into their mailbox right? But then it started to get more intrusive. Like you describe, it seems necessary to share all the particulars of my private life with MicroSoft, just to gain access to my messages. Initially, I complied and gave them my address, phone numbers, but they still wanted more.
    Fact of the matter is that, contrary to the typical (US?) Outlook user, I live in a region of the world were there are multiple countries, and as a result, various borders within driving distance. Now, that apparently is a difficult concept for MicroSoft. I mean, if I visit my parents (a drive of 30 miles) I end up in another country. Accessing your Outlook then results in “It looks like you’re not where you’re supposed to be”. Well, thanks for keeping taps on my movements. Going to my nan is again another country. “It looks like you’re not where you’re supposed to be”. And to make matters worse, like you, I travel around for work. To different countries. “It looks like you’re not where you’re supposed to be”.

    After dragging my heels for a very long time, this, together with the IMMENSELY slow performance caused by “Want to see how else is online so you can connect with them on Skype” finally made me move to a local Swiss free webmail provider. Apart from various benefits I didn’t expect (speed, both excellent desktop and mobile performance and layout, privacy – also a hot topic in the post-Snowden area) I noticed that changing your email account (read address) is not as bad as I feared. For years I was plagued by the nightmare that people would try to reach me on an address which was no longer relevant. But having done it now, I notice that a lot of people most of time REPLY to your message, thus ensuring the correct address. And don’t forget, getting a new account does give you a reason to go through your contacts and distill the most important ones. I did, and let them know separately that my address was changed. And you know what? Even my nan manages to adapt my email address!

    Honesty does force me to praise one thing of Outlook/ Hotmail though: the export of all your contacts to a .csv file works brilliantly.

    • Absolutely Victoria – and with travel becoming more and more accessible, and the rise of popularity in people seeking the life of a digital nomad, the :average user” is no longer someone who stays put and never ventures outside their own borders.

      And you make an excellent point – it truly is ridiculous how much personal information goes into “securing” an email address. 100% see the purpose behind it, though it’s a LOT of information once you think about it.

      So glad to hear you’re having more luck with a local email provider. I realized the same too – that changing your email isn’t actually as horrible as I had feared. People adapt, and as you rightly put it, most of the time people who email you are hitting reply!!

      Thanks for sharing your thoughts and experiences. Travel safe!

  42. I wouldn’t put my trust in gmail. Two winters ago my sister was locked out when she went to South America. Now she’s in Malaysia and again locked out though a week ago when she was in Thailand she had access.
    Besides being frustrating for her, it’s worrisome for others when someone is out of contact for days. In days before email when someone was out of the country you didn’t expect to hear from them so didn’t worry.

    • Thanks for sharing your experience Trudy. I am loving gmail so far, though I guess no system is completely perfect. So sorry to hear your sister has been having issues with it.

      Absolutely it’s worrisome for people when you’re traveling and just randomly fall out of contact. Thankfully in my case I was still able to access my truck loads of social media as well as this blog, but it’s definitely concerning that we tie so much trust into one system of email.

      I’ve now got gmail set up so that it automatically forwards all of my mail through to two other addresses on two different platforms, just in case 😀

    • Further to my comments about gmail.. Just got an email from my sister. She is now back in Bangkok and she has access to her gmail again. Very odd.

    • Strange how sporadic that is. Glad she got access back!

  43. Can’t presently access my gmail account because I’m travelling overseas, and I’ve had my .hotmail, .outlook, and .live accounts locked on the same day for no reason other than their so called verification issues.

    • Uuhhhggggg so sorry to hear that Derifo! It’s ridiculous that so many people are continuing to have issues – I hope you can get it sorted out quickly, otherwise definitely recommend taking to twitter if all else fails – everything seems to happen so much quicker when there’s a public forum involved.

  44. Scott, from Microsoft support team, what is the point of alternative email accounts – if they had the same policies as Microsoft we will not be able to access them from overseas too. Also, many of us do not have the same tlephone number when we are overseas, so this code sent to telephone is useless too.
    I had the same thing happen as Megan last year and it completely ruined my holiday – thanks Microsoft.

    • So sorry to hear the same thing happened to you Paul – seriously I wish there was a better way!! What I’ve done now is set up Gmail as my main account as that seems to be proving more reliable, and have set up gmail to forward everything through to Yahoo and Hotmail accounts just in case something does go down, the thought process being hopefully I should be able to access at least one provider!!

      Wishing you all the best -safe travels, and hopefully they’re free from tech issues in the future 🙂

  45. I had the same trouble in August last year travelling in Malaysia last year. Unfortunately I only had my home phone & work emails as a contact they could send a verification code to. Totally stuck. Took 4 days to fix. I had to Facebook a our IT guy at work and he sent me the authorisation code back on FB. Not easy to organise with the time differences etc. and the authorisation numbers only having a short life! Never had this problem travelling before. And my mobile wasn’t working in some of the places! What’s the point of Hotmail if you can’t use it travelling?

    • So sorry to hear you experienced issues also – can’t believe the problem is so widespread!! I am glad you got it fixed and sorted, though trust me, completely feel your pain!!

      In instances like this I usually contact my father who has all of my emergency passwords and details as a backup, though with him not being on facebook, and my phone being out overseas, it was a bit of a blow when email communication went down as my only means of contacting him!! I ended up sending FB messages to my siblings along the lines of “tell dad” lol – frustrating!!

      Do consider gmail if you’re planning to travel a lot in the future – I haven’t had an issue with them since switching 🙂

  46. Yahoo does the same thing as hotmail, which is extra-annoying if the back-up verification e-mail for your yahoo account is your equally-blocked hotmail account. Eff them both. Gmail it is.

    • Gmail for the win then! Haven’t had any issues with it yet since switching – though I’ve set up a forwarding to a yahoo account anyway just in case; not making that mistake again!!

  47. I just returned home to Arizona from a funeral in Missouri. I could not access my Hotmail account from the hotel computer where I needed to get confirmation numbers to print out boarding passes for my flight home. The security code was to be sent to my Hotmail account which I could not access to retrieve. I did not have my laptop with me. I had the same problem at my sister’s in Ohio last year. Listen up Microsoft, it does not just happen overseas. FRUSTRATING !!!!

    • I’m so sorry to hear that Jackie – seriously what a nightmare!! Domestically?! They’ve really dropped the ball on that one – I’m so sorry you had to go through that. Locking up due to domestic travel is a joke. There’s not much practicality behind the security measures unfortunately and I keep hearing from more and more people who this has happened to.

      Microsoft really has to pick up the ball!

  48. I have been locked out of my gmail and yahoo email accounts more times than I can count. It’s beyond infuriating that in this online age, where so many of us rely on the thousands of connections and saved info in our accounts that this continues to be an issue. For me it was temporary inconvenience, repeatedly, but your situation is unthinkable. Im so glad it has been semi-resolved. When it doubt, take it public. Great job.

    • Totally agree Karina – we don’t realize just how much information vital to our day to day is stored in our email until access is blocked. Repeated inconveniences would quickly become infuriating as well though – luckily I haven’t had any issues since switching to gmail, so knock on wood that it stays that way!!

      I hope you don’t experience any more issues with your account either.

  49. Gosh! This sounds awful and familiar. I’ve got to tell you one thing though, using Gmail won’t solve your problems. You will encounter exactly the same issues whilst travelling with Google as with Hotmail. I’ve been blocked by Gmail in Russia and Africa! Yahoo worked slightly better. In one case I was blocked at a Moscow airport whilst using the airport wifi on my phone, but when I insered my SIM card and used a cell phone account to access the email it worked fine. Same device, different network. Go figure. The only solution I’ve found is to set up your own account. Go to a site such as one.com, buy a domain name and set up an email to that domain. You’ll be able to access the email from apps such as windows live mail or on your phone. Arguably you should be doing this anyway as using a hotmail or gmail account for business isn’t very professional.

    • Thanks Mark for the tips – I have megan@mappingmegan.com though this is just a forwarding address and comes through to a provider like hotmail or gmail. Definitely looking into setting it up via Outlook or the like though in the wake of everything!

      Sorry to hear you’ve been blocked as well – absolutely inexcusable in today’s age of technology. Though I’ve actually experienced the same before – that my access via regular wifi has been blocked though emails were still coming through on my phone. Very strange!

    • Yep. Sigh – was not a happy camper!

  50. Hi Megan,
    I tried to login to my yahoo account from my father’s computer in Germany as I have over the years many times and it won’t let me log in, “because I’m trying to login from a location I’ve never logged in from before”. They sent a verification email to my other yahoo account. I do not have a phone number connected to either account, because I didn’t want any text messages from them. All of my important emails go to my yahoo account and it has all of my friends email addresses. After reading your story, I don’t know, if I will ever be able to login again. I will find out in a week, when I get back home. Luckily I did print my itinerary.
    Yeah for gmail however, as I can get into my gmail account!

    • Hi Susana, thanks for reaching out with your story – sorry to hear you’ve been locked out; I know that’s never fun!!!

      I’ll keep my fingers crossed for you that you will be able to log in once more – I’m sure that once you get back home it will recognize your login and let you back in. As soon as you get access back if you don’t want to make a permanent switch, I would at least set the Yahoo account up to automatically forward emails through to Gmail – I’ve got that up and running now so that I have a duplicate of my inbox across three providers in the worst case again 🙂

      Best of luck and safe and happy travels. So sorry to hear you’ve been experiencing issues too. X

  51. Sadly, this happened to me earlier this week when I’m overseas. I do not have a contactable phone number on my cell phone, and Outlook requested that it sends a code to my yahoo account for verification. And when I logged into yahoo to retrieve that mail from Outlook, yahoo requested the exact same thing. Since they are dependent on each other for such things, both accounts are locked out. The only difference is this: Outlook does not readily let you create another account if you do not have a contactable phone number, and without it, you cannot even contact them. Well done Outlook…

    I’ve been through that nightmarish questionnaire, successfully got a reset password link that does not work, and now I’m on my second try on it. I think I’m half ready to switch over to gmail… Goodbye to my email account of over 16 years…

    • Oh no, Kevin I’m so sorry this is happening to you too! I’m hoping that you can sit tight and once you return to your home country you’ll be able to get the phone verification up and running – but it’s so ridiculous that they’re blocking access this readily and regularly overseas!

      Travel is such a common practice now, especially for work, so I completely understand how blocked access can be crippling. It’s absurd!

      I’ll keep my fingers crossed for you that your second link works – as soon as it does I highly recommend jumping ship and importing your 16 years worth of emails over the gmail too. A few people have said that they’ve experience issues with Gmail as well, though it seems to be the lesser of the three evils being Yahoo, Gmail and Outlook.

      I hope your access is reinstated soon XX

  52. Meg, thanks for posting this. I’ve just finished reading all the comments as well. I’m living in the UK at the moment and while visiting family in Canada and the U.S. last year, I was blocked out of my Hotmail account as well. I’ve been searching online for a solution as I’m travelling there again in a few weeks and don’t have a smartphone (note to Microsoft) and my UK phone doesn’t work in N. America.

    Besides wanting to send a code to a phone that wouldn’t work, they then asked me to supply the email addresses of the last 10 people I had sent emails to as verification. Fortunately I was at my brother’s and he was one of the people I had sent a group message to, so I was able to get these addresses. But it took more than one try.

    I’m sorry to see that this happens to Gmail as well sometimes, as opening a Gmail account is going to be one of my hoped for solutions. My other backup is to make a physical copy of the email addresses of people I have sent emails to just before leaving the UK.

    My family lives on the U.S.-Canadian border — no more than 100 miles apart. Yet I was locked out again at my other brother’s when I visited him in the States.

    I originally began using Hotmail many, many years ago as it was a service you could use and not be device- dependent on. Ironically, now, you have to be dependent on a smartphone set up for international travel across all zones, apparently.

    Very sad.

    • Hi Kathy – thanks for sharing your experience – though sorry to hear you can relate to the comments and post!! Yep, I had the same list of the last 10 email addresses pop up too, which is pretty specific information so I have no idea why this couldn’t be a solid enough check to prove your identity in itself.

      I would definitely recommend switching to Gmail as a solution – obviously from the comments it hasn’t worked for everyone, though it’s been a heck of a lot more reliable than hotmail and I’ve had no problems so far (knock on wood) personally. I also have an automatic forward set up so that all of my emails go through to another Gmail account and all of those go through to one on Yahoo so I essentially have two duplicate accounts with all of my data should one go down. This is the best solution I can come up with, though hopefully I’ll never have to rely on it as a plan B!

      So ridiculous that you were locked out no more than 100 mile apart. Travel is SUCH a normal thing these days, so I don’t see why the technology can’t keep up.

      We don’t even travel with a phone anymore because of all of the international jumping around we do, so I guess if it happens again, in lei of another massive hate campaign on twitter lol I guess we’re out of luck.

      Best of luck to you – I hope that your email issues are problems of the past!

  53. Thank you for the original post and all of the replies. I was recently on the road in Europe and got locked out of both Yahoo and Gmail so an alt email address wouldn’t have helped and I had no phone service either. Yahoo wanted answers to security questions that I didn’t remember even setting up. (The account is 15 years old — one question was “What is the name of your oldest nephew? – I don’t even have a nephew!) I resigned myself to a pre-internet world for the duration. Luckily my girlfriend (who was also locked out of email on a Windows PC) could receive and send from her Android tablet so we had our relevant travel info available.

    The kicker is, when I got back to the States, I logged into Yahoo to change my security questions and found out that this seems to be impossible now. There is now no way to access the questions or answers in the account.

    It seems like we’re regressing back to the early 1990s where voicephone and snailmail were the only forms contact with the outside world while overseas.

    • Hi Michael – that’s really bad on the part of Yahoo that you can’t change your security questions. So sorry that this also happened to you. Glad your girlfriend found a temporary way around it via her phone, I’ve actually found the same sometimes, that you can still send and recieve when you have it set up to route everything to your phone even if you can’t get onto the actual platform. I’ll never understand their logic!!

      I actually give facebook full credit for their security features in this instance, and don’t see why email servers can’t put in something similar. When facebook locks you out for logging in from a different location, they put you through a test of your friends faces. You get given like 10 multiple choices and have to match a name to a face each time, brilliant, simple, and very easy to complete if it’s genuinely you.

      That’s what they should do!!!

  54. Hi Meg,
    Thank you for posting this blog. I was about to go mental with frustration. Have also had terrible issues being blocked from my hotmail account while traveling. We have just come back from a nine week trip across Europe from Australia. I was blocked almost straight away in Spain but worked out that I could still access email when using my phone carrier (a traveling sim number with included roaming so not my regular number) but not at all with any wifi. Frustrating but as long as I remembered to inky check my hotmail when off wifi I was ok. If that isn’t weird enough my partner hotmail account was not a problem the whole time – why but only to torment me I wonder ? Infuriating. Anyway manage to get through the whole trip then get home and get blocked out using our wifi at home !! Unbelievable ! I have a gmail account that worked throughout the whole trip without problem. I also have the verification problem occur when I travel to different states in Australia domestically – it just makes no sense – the only thing I have noticed is it seems to be happening to people with older accounts with years of data in them – is this a ploy from Microsoft to clear the trash I wonder ? Who knows but not a good system – I am another that will not rely on hotmail/Microsoft much longer if they don’t fix the problem it is just so silly. I don’t need the frustration – one day someone will have a heart attack over the stress it causes heaven forbid.

    • Couple of typos – 1) inky was supposed to be only and it was my partners hotmail account not a partner hotmail account.

    • Hi Paul, thanks for sharing your experience – I’m so sorry to hear about your frustration though too!! It blows my mind to how many people are continually affected by this – it’s insane!! I made sure I waited a few days before I wrote up this post because I sure as hell wasn’t in a calm state of mind when it was happening!! Really can turn your whole world upside down from the stress.

      It’s the strangest thing too that you can access emails via a phone carrier – a few people left similar comments above. No idea why that’s a loophole, but I guess it’s better than nothing when it’s the best thing you’ve got!!

      I would definitely make the jump to Gmail – a few people have mentioned similar issues with the service, though over-all I personally have had a fantastic run. And jus make sure you set up an automatic forwarding to a second email as a backup, as well as a number of different processes for verification.

      I hope this marks the end of your issues!! Fingers crossed there’s no more email stress for you anytime soon 🙂

  55. Hello Meg,

    Love your post…..make it live on so people understand the limits and stupidity
    of some email providers…..I have several email 1 hotmail 1 outlook.com 1 gmx.net 1 gmail ….i live between the US and Europe and am locked out of my 3 hotmail / outlook and gmail account, fortunately my main gmx.net gives me absolutely no problem since it is live on my smartphone.
    However the stupidity of these email providers is such that i cannot unlock any of these three accounts here in the US since my fallback emails to have code sent are either gmail outlook or hotmail. Result : i cannot take a medical examination which i need to book online , my stay here in the US is completely jeopardized. As soon as i get back
    to my base I will clean out cancel any hotmail or outlook.com account I have….will assess the gmail issue open new accounts with new providers who are helpful and logical . Needless to stay that i will stay away from any microsoft / surface /windows phone product from now on. I switched to mac and iphone and i am very satisfied. Microsoft is loosing market share / will continue to loose market and are arrogant bastards….This is the last straw. Cheers to all.

    • Hi Patrick – glad you love the post! I’m glad I can spread awareness of how ridiculous this situation is – it’s insane that so much traffic from Google is coming through at the moment because people can’t find any solutions online!!

      So sorry to hear you get locked out of all three! That’s BEYOND frustrating!! Glad to hear it’s working through your smartphone though. Nifty little trick there, so I’m going to be traveling with my phone always from now on even if I’m not leaving the cell service itself on.

      Your situation sounds horrible, and I can completely feel your pain having gone through all of the stress of US immigration myself. I can’t even imagine the added stress of extra email problems on top of all of that. Perhaps you could set up a new email solely for the medical exam which, annoying as it is, could at least get you through that.

      I would definitely back your decision though to move away from microsoft. I’m still very addicted to my Windows, but anything beyond that I’m out.

      Happy travels – and here’s to less email issues going forward!!

  56. I think Gmail now requires a two-step verification. Not sure how you can use that when you don’t have a cell phone (like me)………….

    • I’ve got my Gmail now set up where I can send a verification to either a phone or an email, so they other day when I logged in on a new device it gave me the option to choose. I have my verification email set up as that of my husbands account, so if you don’t travel with a phone, highly recommend setting up a second email account just for the purpose of having it if you need verification.

      Hope that helps!

  57. Hi Meg

    I’ve been a window user for 25 years ….it was good but it’s open code which will pick up any virus trojan and malware thru flash player javascript internet explorer and adobe products…..it’s a dinosaur….People : Loving windows is irrational ….it is a prime target for hacking especially since now Outlook.com and windows live account are THE primary platform for windows product in the cloud/skydrive/window store….now YOUR credit card are linked to these platforms and this a major hacking risk and hence all these security fences which are badly designed.
    People have to understand their lives are been hijacked: the next step in the strategy for google-android/microsoft windows-phone/apple-iphone is to track you anywhere and MAKE YOU PAY CLOUD SERVERS….once you start putting your whole life on these remote servers you are at risk of being locked out/ransomed and tracked everywhere….big brother is coming…..actually it s already here but just an appetizer. Call me technology resistant…Intrusive technology that is.
    Anyway I’m off track…getting back to our subject…..My take is you need at least 3 or 4 emails set up to work around being locked out while travelling. None should be outlook.com or hotmail or microsoft live accounts: they lock you out , i recommend gmail.com gmx.com gmx.net icloud.com (maybe AOL) these are big and healthy providers I’ve had GMX for 20 years when outlook expres from microsoft started to be a pain.
    You need to set up ALL these email on your smartphone as push mail accounts so that they are actively looking for mail anytime you re near a wifi……The key is to keep these
    mailboxes active. My Wife has an hotmail account (20 years as well) she doesn’t have a problem because it’s set up here on her ipad2 and her android smartphone which travel with her BUT she has been getting daily reminders from microsoft that her account could be jeopardized. Talk about excessive preventive measures.
    Hope this can be of help to users. It took me a while to bite the bullet and work on a mac air and learn IOS…but I am so well off.

    Happy travelings online (hopefully)

    • Hi Patrick, thanks for expressing your thoughts. It’s definitely scary how reliant we are on technology, and how it completely brings our lives as we know it to a halt if it crashes down to the ground. People don’t know how to live without it anymore.

      Totally agree that the only way nowadays to not find yourself locked out is via setting up 3-4 different emails, I’ve now got a lovely little email chain which forwards from outlook to Gmail, to Yahoo – hopefully I’ll never be down and out without email again!! Gmail being my primary account now.

      Though I don’t yet have all of these set up on my smartphone as push accounts – that’s a brilliant idea. Especially since so many people have found that smartphones work often in the absence of actual access. Thanks for that idea!

      Happy travels – and glad to hear your tech issues are now being prevented by your mac air!! I need to bite the bullet and invest in one also! My ASUS Zen is driving me nuts right now!!

  58. Don’t use gmail or yahoo either. I also travel a lot and have found myself in the exact same situation as you, multiple times. And completely lost my email account with years worth of email TWICE.

    • That’s horrible Pia, I’m so sorry to hear that. I might need to consider a personal server for my email then – right now I at least feel safe knowing I’ve got my forwarding set up across 4 different mainstream platform accounts, but I may look at getting a personalized service.

      Seems to be the better way to go especially when it’s for work!

  59. I too have been having this same trouble accessing email while travelling in Japan. Luckily I did set up mail forwarded before leaving Australia but not for my wife’s account, never expected this sort of thing to happen. Asking people to reply to an SMS message sent to their mobile phone, to get access to their gmail account while away, when they do not have an overseas roaming phone account is ridiculous. Another great idea by somebody that has not been well thought out!

    • Sorry to hear this is also happening to you Rick – glad you had the forwarding set up on at least one of your accounts, though totally agree that it’s still a pain in the ass!! I think a forwarding account for your wife’s email should be the first thing to set up when you get back from Japan.

      And I agree that the whole process is ill thought out and completely ridiculous. Whoever put it in place obviously hadn’t travelled!!

  60. I moved over to Runbox so I don’t have these issues and have total privacy too. Together with services like Dropbox (Though Mega is better), Evernote, LastPass and Xmarks.

    Result? I am computer independent. If you stole any of my computers, you’d get no passwords, no bookmarks, no data – Nothing.

    I can go to the library and open a browser and it opens where I left off. 400+ passwords of 15-50 characters all remembered for me. I only need one password.

    Every application is mobile, tablet, desktop and operating system independent.

    Of course I keep backups of these too.

    Security and redundancy with a different mindset.

    • Hi Graham,

      Sorry for my lack of knowledge about RunBox, I’ve never heard of the name before. Is that an aggregated password collector/link login tool?

      If so what happens if their security is compromised and then you’ve lost 100% of your logins to everything?

      Whilst I hate having all these passwords to remember the idea of having them in separate pots makes me feel more secure since they can’t all be taken down at once.

      I’ve started looking at the Runbox website and can’t quite see how this risk is averted. Whilst many IT services claim security protection etc they are all targets.

      As part of my job I speak to a lot of people who work in IT (to varying skill levels). Some of them say that if I knew all the security flaws they were aware of I’d probably never do anything online again.

  61. Have locked out of account for 30 days

    • Hi Lorna, highly recommend tweeting them via twitter – that’s the only way I gained traction and had someone at least attempt to help me out. So sorry to hear this is happening to you also.

      As soon as you get access back , set up a few automatic forwarding addresses so you can a copy/backup of your email on a few different platforms too. That way if it does go down again you can at least access via gmail or yahoo etc.

      Def consider switching to Gmail – I haven’t had an issue with them since.

      Hop it gets resolved for you soon XXX

  62. Ahhhhhh this has just happened to me. Absolute nightmare as have literally all my information and flight documents saved here. I am going to struggle with some of the verification questions given I have had this account for over a decade it might be hard to remember the exact date I set it up!!!

    • 🙁 Sorry to hear that Amy!!! I’ll keep my fingers and toes crossed for you that you manage to get back in – I know first hand how outright frustrating it is when you’ve got everything stored there. I’m surprised I didn’t hurl my computer at the wall honestly!!

      Make sure you’re traveling with print out copies of your important docs for future trips too – or even an electronic copy on a USB; really does come in handy in situations like these, or if you get cut off from the net all together.

      I hope it all works out for you – I can’t believe this issue is happening with this much frequency!! I feel you!

  63. Hi Megan and Mike,

    It may be old news to you by now, but to get around this problem, it helps a lot to have a VPN (Virtual Private Network) client installed on your laptop. You can set it up so that you connect through servers that make it look like you’re in your home country & city. It also encrypts your data, so if you’re doing your online banking on public WIFI, no one can hack into your machine (even a password protected WIFI is vulnerable) An excellent article about VPNs here:

    http://toomanyadapters.com/5-reasons-you-should-be-using-a-vpn-while-traveling/

    Fortunately, I came across this article and website before setting off on extended travel in 2015-16.

    For a VPN, I’m using Wytopia and so far it has worked seamlessly. I paid $60 USD for a year subscription. Based on the nightmare you endured, I feel much better now about parting with my cash.

    Hope this helps. Cheers,

    Ken

    • Hi Ken – thanks for the advice, VPN is a fantastic idea to combating this. We have one which we mainly use now for being able to stream our television shows online while we’re away but I didn’t even really stop to think about using it as a way of getting around an email block. Brilliant!

      Definitely a worthwhile investment, especially if it means you can avoid going through what we did. Going to start recommending that to people too.

      Thanks for the advice 🙂

  64. Megan, this just happened to me too, while travelling in Greece. But I hate to tell you: Gmail and Yahoo both sent me emails saying “sign-in attempt blocked” because of being in a foreign country and/or because sign-ins were coming from what they consider to be insecure apps or unrecognized device. Of course I was only using my regular devices I’ve had for years and normal apps, so it must really be the foreign ip address that is causing them to lock me out. I guess they think nobody travels! Maybe there is a way to let your email provider know in advance when you’ll be overseas, the same as you would do for your bank?

    Btw, I’m dying to visit Iceland, how was it?

    • Thanks Suzanne for letting us know!! Sorry to hear this has also just happened to you 🙁 I guess one of the best things to organize would be one of those browser extensions which masks your IP address perhaps. In theory you would think that would be an effective way of concealing the fact that you’re overseas. Though ridiculous you have to resort to that!!

      I agree that they should absolutely have an option for letting them know that you’re traveling overseas like the banks do – I haven’t seen anything like this yet though will let you know if I do.

      And OMG you’ll LOVE Iceland!! It was our all time favorite destination – I put together a video of our two weeks there if you’re interested 🙂 Post is http://www.mappingmegan.com/roadtrip-through-iceland/ – let me know if you’re looking for any specific Iceland tips – it’ll be one of the best vacations you do!

  65. Currently in Cyprus locked out of my Hotmail / outlook account for 3 days – will they unlock it when I return to Australia – will I have access when I return. Now no access to my flight schedules etc – total stress and dramas thanks to Microsoft! Poor service and no phone numbers to call and assist.

  66. Hi Everyone,

    Ref my last message above: Fourth standard email below from Microsoft – after spending three days waiting for access in Cyprus – filled in four verification forms asking questions I need to remember from 13 years ago. No phone numbers to call to assist and ineffective call centres with no power to make effective decisions – have now missed two flights as unsure of airlines booked with dates and times of flights. Microsoft still not reacting to my problem – with no offer to call me and check who I am. After reading the blog above I read a very nice reply from a Microsoft rep but have they really improved their service? – I believe NO NO and NO! Still reactive and highly ineffective with no phone numbers to call and ability fax or scan passports through to confirm identity. I think everyone needs to seriously consider G MAIL! 4 AM in the morning here in Cyprus still waiting on a realistic and effective response for my blocked account from Microsoft!

    Microsoft Account – Unmonitored Automated Email

    Today at 12:20 AM

    Your security is important to us
    Recently, we received several requests to gain access to @hotmail.com. Unfortunately, we were unable to verify your ownership using the information that was provided. Microsoft takes the security and privacy of our customers very seriously. We are committed to protecting your personal information, and our careful account recovery process is intended to protect you from any possible malicious activity.

    Now what?
    Because there have been multiple unsuccessful recovery attempts for this account, we recommend at this point that you create a new account. It’s quick and easy, and we have tools to help you import contacts, connect with Facebook, and even receive messages from multiple email accounts.

    > Open a new account

    With a new account, you’ll be able to use the following services across all of your devices:
    •Best-in-class email with unlimited storage at lightning speed and serious security.
    •Stay connected with friends and family, see social updates and chat with Facebook friends, and make ordinary moments memorable with video calls.
    •Free online storage for thousands of docs and photos, shared your way.

    Don’t get locked out again
    Once you create a new account, we highly recommend you update your password reset information with a phone number or alternate email address. This will make it easier for you to gain access to your account in the future if you are locked out again.

    • Hi John, I’m so sorry to hear of your issues, I can’t believe they still haven’t changed their customer service since! Especially since I got a nice long comment from Scott above who mentioned that Microsoft had apparently seen this post and was taking everyone’s concerns under consideration.

      Appalling that nothing changes. I hope you do regain access to your hotmail account soon – I would definitely make the jump and forward all of your emails over to Gmail as soon as you do. Granted, a few people in this thread have been having similar issues with Gmail too, though I think they’re probably the lesser of all evils if you don’t have your own domain.

      I’ve since also set up forwarding on my emails in gmail so that I have a complete copy of my inbox on Yahoo and via another Gmail account too. And have multiple verification addresses set up too. Also I’ve since started traveling with extensive paper print outs of my itinerary details just in case my computer or email ever goes down again.

      Sorry to hear you’ve been put through so much nonsense – I hope it’s resolved for you soon with no more email stress to come.

      Take care

  67. NO GMAIL HAS THE SAME PROBLEMS, I CAME HERE BECAUSE GMAIL IRREPARABLY LOCKED ME OUT OF MY OWN ACCOUNT THEN THEN EMAILED ME “SOMEBODY HAS YOUR PASSWORD! THEY TRIED TO LOG IN FROM [MY OWN IP]” DUH YOU RETARDS, I HAVE MY OWN PASSWORD AND I TRIED TO LOG IN YOU RETARDS!!!

    • Sorry to hear that you’ve been having issues with Gmail too 🙁 Trust me, I feel your pain. I guess one of the best things to organize would perhaps be one of those browser extensions which masks your IP address and conceals that you’re logging in from overseas.

      Though ridiculous we have to think of resorting to that!!

      I hope you regain access to your Gmail account soon – I have a forwarding set up on mine and two recovery email addresses just in case after this happened to me with hotmail. I set up as many verification options as I could possibly get.

      All the best X

  68. Whichever half witted moron came up with these security measures deserved a good slap. Even though I have submitted two previous passwords, four recent email adresses and subjects and three folder names, I still can’t get in for ‘my own security’. For my own security I NEED TO ACCESS THE NAME OF MY FUCKING HOTEL AND MY FLIGHT DETAILS AND THE TICKETS FOR SHOWS THAT I HAVE PAID HUNDREDS OF DOLLARS FOR!!

    • Totally agree with you Hayley and absolutely feel your pain. I’m so sorry this is happening to you. Can you maybe contact someone back at home through Facebook to log into your email and forward you your flight details through a different messaging app?

      Won’t work if it’s totally locked, but sometimes it will allow you to log in from your home country even when it’s locked you out from overseas.

      Worst case try and call the flight operator that you’re flying with and explain the situation to try and get a record of your flight details. Usually they’ll let you check in with your passport even if you don’t have the itinerary on you.

      Hope it all works out for you XX

  69. locked out. moved from Greenville,NC to Tacoma,WA and Microsoft locked me out! Tried to recover and nothing happens! My new job information is in that outlook email!

    Microsoft email is horrible!

  70. You’ve reached the limit for account recovery requests
    We’ve received too many requests to recover this account today. (We have a limit to help keep your account safe.) Please try again in 24 hours.

    • So sorry to hear this is also happening to you Karen!! Such a horrible situation!! And ridiculous that you haven’t even left the country and it’s locking you out!!!

      I hope you manage to sort it out soon – maybe if there’s someone you trust back in NC you could potentially call them and see if it will let them log in from there. Won’t work if it’s totally locked, but sometimes it will allow you to log in from your home state even when it’s locked you out from elsewhere.

      Hope it all works out for you XXX

  71. Good suggestions. Gmail worked without issues. Only asked what city I came from. Then it unlocked. Seriously Microsoft has no clue how to create workable software these days.

    • Well I’m glad Gmail worked out for you – Microsoft really need to overhaul their systems to stay relevant.

  72. This has actually happened to me and because of it I lost my scholarship for not responding since I went home to visit my family outside the US! I still can’t believe it.

    • That’s shocking Feras!! I’m so sorry that happened to you 🙁

  73. My problem with Gmail is that it’s blocked in China. I couldn’t access my mails there. Even my Yahoo account asks for verification. So useless.

    • Sorry to hear that Roda 🙁 I guess it doesn’t matter so much which platform you’re with. Gmail’s been working fabulously for me since I switched from outlook, though granted I haven’t yet been to China yet.

      I hope you regain access to your accounts soon.

  74. Thanks for taking this public. I just returned from a two week trip to Argentina and Chile. Locked out of my Outlook e-mail the whole time. The verification process did not work for me. Although, the lock out did not create the problems you and others have experience, it could have had my wife not been able to access our travel documents through her Yahoo account. As it was, trying to recover access to my e-mail was time consuming over very slow public internet connections. Time wasted that could have been used for something much more enjoyable and worthwhile.
    I have another major concern with the verification process that no one else has mentioned. I have a real concern with providing the security sensitive information MSFT is requesting over a public internet connection. This information could be used to gain access to accounts I consider much more important than my e-mail. Like financial accounts. And without e-mail access, I would not get any alerts that these accounts may have been compromised. After trying the verification process several times on different public connections, I was worried about this for the rest of the trip.
    I’m home now and have access again. Currently trading messages with MSFT about my problem/concerns which seem to be falling on deaf ears or eyes. I’m done. This is the fourth time I have been locked out while traveling and I am not doing this again. Definitely opening a GMail account. And I’m going to look at some of the other suggestions I have noted in the comments.
    Thanks for providing a public forum to voice this. Your blog came to the top of the heap when I searched on this problem. Maybe it will get their attention and force some change.
    Anyone reading through this because of access issues should comment on their issues, concerns, and grips.

    Cheers,
    Steve

    • Sorry to hear this has happened to you also Steve, and that’s a great point which I hadn’t even thought of about sending private information over public networks. Scary to think!

      I guess the best way to try and combat that would be to sort out some form of VPN for your computer, or to try and source internet connections which have a password protection, though it’s often difficult to find these when traveling, especially when you’re only choices are a hotel or a cafe.

      People have been mentioning that they have experienced similar issues with Gmail too, though I haven’t had this happen to me since, so at the very least it seems to be not as bad as the frequency of lockouts with Outlook. I would highly recommend setting up the automatic forwarding I mentioned with your new account too, so that way worst case if it does happen again you have a full copy of your inbox on another platform like Yahoo.

      It’s sad that it takes a very public blog post like this one and a social media campaign to make companies like Microsoft actually listen. I was not impressed with their service at all before the point that I took this public.

      Thankyou for reading and leaving your experiences here. Wishing you all the best. Here’s to no email lockouts in 2016!!

  75. Just want to mention again that gmail can also lock you out. It happened to my sister in Thailand, though she was fine in Malaysia. She was also locked out in South America.
    One suggestion is if you use booking.com it stores your hotel bookings. You can even take a picture to place in a photo albums of the booking. Another app that is useful for flight and hotel information is Tripit.rental.com in the USA sent me an email about their app and I have it containing my car rental information. I these apps don’t help with getting your email but they do solve a lot of the problems people are posting about. Of course you need Internet access but that usually isn’t the problem.

    • Sorry forgot to say I am using the booking.com app and I use an iPad.

    • Hi Judy – thanks for the note about Gmail. I’ve since heard from a few others above in the comments that they’ve experience similar issues with Gmail too – though seems to be with a little less frequency than Outlook. Sorry to hear your sister went through this too!!

      Booking apps is a fantastic tip – I’ll have to update this post to add that in. We do use the booking.com app on occasion and it’s a fantastic way of accessing reservation information, I don’t know why I didn’t think to recommend it here. Thanks!

  76. this what Scott said on June 24, 2014:
    “Ensure you have several alternate emails and associated to your account and a phone” None of this worked, despite an alternative of my wife, and my cell. I’m done with Hotmail.

    • Sorry to hear you’re also having issues Eldad. When you change over to a new email provider do set up as many backup plans as you can like forwarding to another platform like Yahoo or Gmail, and associated emails and phones etc.

      I hope you’re having a wonderful Christmas despite having been locked out X

  77. Hi Meg can I ask how you managed to resolve this in the end? Did the escalation support sort it out for you eventually? What did you have to do to gain access again? I am going through this at the moment and it is very upsetting, I don’t know what to do.

    • Hi Steve – in the end I took to twitter, and sent a tweet to @MicrosoftHelps who at least acknowledged me and forwarded my situation to a high level Escalation Agent.

      Still took some back and forth, jumping between various agents all of whom seemed to lack in communication skills, though eventually I finally got onto an escalation agent who fixed it.

      The guys on twitter don’t have the same power as an escalation agent, though my public social media posts seemed to at least get attention and see me contacted by a fresh set of agents. And I give the twitter team gave timely responses and actually made me feel like they were attempting to resolve the issue.

      Sorry that this is happening to you also – I know first hand how frustrating and upsetting it is. Highly recommend social media posts when you’re at a wits end because this is a very public forum and companies don’t like the bad PR so they generally try to act swiftly to fix it.

      My only other suggestion would be trying to contact someone at home perhaps via Facebook to see if they can gain access to your account in your home country. Sometimes that works. Also, a lot of people have been saying they’re still able to read their emails through their phone even though they’re blocked on their actual account online. Not sure if that still works, but it’s worth a try.

      I hope something in here was helpful for you, and I hope you do gain access back to your emails soon. Set up an automatic forwarding as soon as you get access back so that if it ever happens again you’ve got your emails stored on another platform/provider which you can access in an emergency.

      All the best X

    • Thank you very much Meg that information is extremely helpful. I have now started down the (likely) long miserable journey through escalation agents, so I will see where that leads me. Good idea on the accessing from home country/accessing from mobile ideas – those may be my best bet if this doesn’t work. I absolutely will be moving my emails to another provider if I manage to make it out of this mess!

    • Hi just as an update I managed to finally get back into my account! The escalation agents were useless so I got someone from home to access it for me. Thanks again for the advice Meg.

      For anyone else reading this, make sure you never log into your Microsoft account abroad – it is absolutely not worth the days of hassle it will cause you! I realized through this process how much important info/emails I had wrapped up in my account. It is really not safe leaving this stuff in a Microsoft account which can so easily lock you out for good, so also make sure that you have copies of any essential stuff either at home or stored securely on another (non-Microsoft) site as backup. Also if travelling make sure you have travel itineraries, etc printed off before you go.

    • I’m so glad to hear you got access back Steve! Nice work 🙂

      And absolutely – we really don’t realize just how much of our lives are wrapped up and reliant on our email accounts. It’s a super rude shock when you do get locked out!!! I’ve been traveling with ridiculous amounts of printed confirmations with me when we go overseas ever since. So not worth the risk!

      All the best going forward – here’s to that being the last of your email issues.

  78. Just returned from Thailand where I tried to access both yahoo mail and gmail and they were both locked when I attempted to log in from my wife’s Iphone. There was no way to solve the problem until I returned home. The question asked was “What date did you open your account?” Do people really know that after more than 30 years with the same account? Also both emails asked me to use the other email account to verify my identity. Of course they both were blocked so that could not work either. My question is what exactly is a password for?

    • Sorry to hear this has also happened to you Raymond. I’m glad to hear you at least managed to regain access once you returned home. But yes, absolutely feel your frustrations, travel is such a common practice now that you would think this would be less widespread!!!

  79. Forget about having a different/better experience with gmail! I’m in India right now on a business trip and Google has blocked one of my gmail accounts (fortunately not my main account) and repeatedly sends me emails saying that they have protected me – from ‘suspicious’ log-in attempts from a ‘new’ computer-the same laptop I have been using for 2 years by the way and a ‘new’ device …my 2 year old ipad! And is there a space to communicate, ‘no, this is NOT’ a suspicious sign-in attempt, it is ME? No! Why not ask the question…”is this you–prove it”?

    I can only assume that because Americans are more parochial and per capita travel less overseas than others nationalities perhaps, there is an assumption that log-ins from countries other than your own, are ‘suspicious’. It’s creepy that we are tracked and logged like this by these mega-corporations. When I was on the Mongol Rally a couple of years ago, it was a nightmare! UK, western Europe, Turkey, Iran, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Russia, Mongolia…ALL my accounts were blocked…both Hotmail and Gmail. By a miracle I was able to call Microsoft (I don’t know how…it really was a miracle…I googled a telephone number and it worked) and the girl took down the data about the countries we were travelling through and restored access to my 2 Hotmail accounts. But I didn’t get access to my three gmail accounts till I returned to Australia a couple of months later.

    • Hi Faith, thanks for sharing your experience – I’m so sorry to hear that this is repeatedly happening to you, and across multiple platforms too.

      That’s an interesting point about Americans traveling less than other nations – it actually does make a lot of sense since these tech companies are largely based in the States.

      I just don’t understand why it’s so difficult for them to implement something, anything, to rectify this situation. Even if it was something which allowed you to notify them of the countries you’ll be traveling to. Surely if the banks have the technology to so it, corporations like Google and Microsoft should be able to figure it out!!!

  80. Oh do NOT EVER use gmail. They will do the same thing. Yahoo, MS, Google, all the same. They started doing that around a few years ago. I was 350 miles from home, using a Yahoo account I had had for nearly 10 years–locked out! Nothing i could do except travel back home and log in.

    Right then I decided never again was that going to happen to me. It’s all because of that idiotic phone verification system they have.

    Just use Mail.com. It’s old school. Sign, up, create a name and password, your in–forever. They enver ask for verification as long as you have your log name and password–like, no duh?

    That’s why I never use MS, Yahoo, Google anything. Well, I have a MS account for Onedrive backups for my laptop, but that’s it. And I have that backed up on another drive too just in case MS thinks it needs to block all my family pictures from the last 54 years of my ;life–and I cannot access them ever again.

    The lesson is never trust these three corporations with your information–they’ll simply make it so you can;t access it–ever.

    Also, the phone thing doesn’t work. What if you change your number, lose your phone? It’s not worth it.

    • Thanks for the tip Sasww! I signed up for mail.com upon reading your comment. I have successfully linked both my personal and work Yahoo Email to Mail.com. Gmail is preventing Mail.com to sync because it doesn’t comply with modern security standards. Oh well, at least, I can access my Yahoo wherever, whenever now.

    • Awesome tip re mail.com Sasww, will look into setting that up this weekend. Sorry to hear you experienced an email lock out too – though glad to hear you managed to get back in. It’s absolutely ridiculous that these kind of companies have this much power, so I’m super happy to go old school if it means never having this happen again.

      Thanks for the tip!

  81. Megan, I think I wrote you about this on twitter, but this might be a better place to post it. Basically it looks like your problem is that your email service provider detected that you were logging in from an unusual place. They can do this by tracking your IP address. Your IP address is so accurate, and so unique to your computer, that your location can be pinpointed to within 10 meters. One way to fool google or msn is to use a VPN, that’s virtual private network. There’s many available for as little as 5 USD per month or in a pinch you can use a free service called “Soft Ether” VPN. What id does is tunnel your connection through a server in another location. So for example, I live in Germany. I typically log in to my Gmail from Germany. When I go to the United States, I always have trouble. I have to verify I’m not a hacker. I got sick of this and hooked up to a VPN. Google no longer challenges me. So by tricking Microsoft or Google into thinking you’re still local, you can avoid the entire verification process. I provide very detailed instructions on how to set up soft ether VPN for free here: http://www.sirtripsalot.com/using-a-vpn-to-tunnel-under-the-firewall-of-china-while-traveling-2/

    • Hi Ken, thanks for the advice on a VPN. That’s a really fantastic idea – I have started hearing about them a lot recently though haven’t yet sorted one out for myself. Will check out your post … might be time to purchase one!

  82. Meagan I can so relate. When I went to Iceland I could not log into my Outlook or get my bank info. I was trying to login and I received the exact same message you did. I finally got to a point where they said we can send you a code to your other email-gmail which I thought I was making headway until I tried to log into my gmail and received a similiar message. Now I’m pulling my hair out. My bank’s message was we can send you a code to your email so you can access your bank info. Yeah great! if I could access anything. Each time I tried to use help on Outlook I received a message that someone will get back to you within 24 hours. It was very frustrating.

    Are there any comments about a way to contact Outlook and let them know when you are going to be out of country and to allow access to your account?

    • Hi Susan, sorry to hear that this is also happening to you. I completely feel your frustration.

      Unfortunately no, haven’t had any comments about a way to contact Outlook to let them know you’re heading overseas in advance. Though everyone seems to be in agreeance that this is something which should be implemented. Surely if the banks can do it, a huge tech company like Microsoft should be able to pull it off.

      Will comment back and let you know if I do find anything like it though. My suggestions would be to have as many verification options on your account as possible – secondary email addresses, phone numbers etc. Setting all that up at least gives you options for recovery which will hopefully come into play before they block your access again.

  83. Dear Mike, I travel for work and I am always abroad (hence me needing mobility and emails in the first place..). I have never had any issue before though recently I went to Hawaii and now Italy and in both cases I got locked out of both the ‘connected/linked’ accounts with hotmail and yahoo!! (one provides the back up to the other when the security check at sign in is concerned and requested). So I am now screwed completely and unable to contact either yahoo or hotmail to direclty fix the issue. The question I have for you is then, how did you fix yours? Is there a number to call, an email address or a building to blow up to get some attention here?

    • Hi Slate – sorry to hear this is happening to you too. The biggest issue is that there is no number to actually call – anything you find online with a phone number will 100% be a scam. The only method for regaining access is to fill in a ticket for support online, and hopefully you’ll get a helpful escalation agent.

      I took to twitter, and wrote this post after not having any luck with escalation agents at all. The public forum seemed to get their attention and I was directed to someone who was able to help me. So highly recommend taking your grievance to a public forum like social media if all else fails.

      I did also regain access to my accounts fully once I returned to the US – often the block that is put on the account might only affect you while overseas because it’s picking up a different IP address.

      One thing you could try is reaching out to someone at home and seeing if they can access the accounts for you to forward any vital information you need via social media. Going forward, a lot of people have mentioned that having a VPN which hides your IP address while you’re traveling is a good way to prevent this happening in the future.

      Hope that helps, and I hope you regain access to your accounts.

  84. Dear Meg, Thank you for the prompt reply. I should have thought of using a vpn. Too late now. Unfortunately, I haven’t gotten anyone back where the accounts were first created and used (..I am Italian, I creatd the accounts in Japan where I live and I am now in the EU so..). It is regrettable though that a technology supposedly invented for global communication and for the benefit of traveling freaks like myself should have such a flaw. Security my a@@ (pardon my French)! I really do not like this situation, not a bit. I use my accounts for work and only I have the access to them… and need them accessed now! You mentioned a ticked to be opened. Could you be more specific on how (perhaps a link) to open one? I tried with google and nothing worked so far. They keep on asking me silly questions (i.e. the last three email addresses I sent mail to.. ???!! yea, right, like I would ever remeber that!, my credit card last 4 digits!!!? WWHAATT?? and other sh@@). I did provide all passwords, recovery emails, sent codes, and answered the preset security questions and I do not understand what they might what after that. Anyways, Thanks again. Cheers

    • Hi Slate – I’m not sure how it works for Yahoo, but as far as hotmail goes, when I went to log in, there was a link to file a support ticket on the screen which told me I was blocked, and instructions on how to recover the account.

      You can check out the support page on the Microsoft site itself: http://windows.microsoft.com/en-us/windows/get-back-blocked-account

      and there are links at the bottom which allow you to either chat with Microsoft support, or email them.

      Hopefully one of those works for you.

    • Well, I guess there is a different format now. All I get is a series of questions on top of other questions that I cannot answer. There is no phone number option, ticket to open anywhere. I am redirected to the same redundant nonsensical page. Ebvery time. I got the code sent to one of the back up email set with gmail (somehow I can access gmail here..) which I punched in severl times and got the same page evry time! So, basically there is no workaround, is there?

  85. Thank you MEg for the link to the chat people from Microsoft. I had a 22 minute chat, the guy was of course very undertsanding and empathic, unfortunately, he said he couldn’t do anything more for me than give me a link to the same page I have been fighting with since day 1. This time, thank god I managed to hit a few more lines right in the infinite questionnaire forced upon me, got a ticket submitted but regrettably, at the end.. it didn’t do any good, just as before. Here is what I got sent to the back up email today:

    “”We recently received a request to recover your Microsoft account **********@live.com. Unfortunately, our automated system has determined that the information you provided was not sufficient for us to validate your account ownership. Microsoft takes the security and privacy of our customers very seriously, and our commitment to protecting your personal information requires that we take the utmost care in ensuring that you are the account owner.

    Please submit a new account verification form

    At this point, your best option is to submit a new form with as much accurate information as you can gather. The more information you can include in the form, the better the chance you’ll have of regaining access to your account. We’ve included a few tips below to help you fill out the form as completely and accurately as possible.

    > Submit a new form

    Helpful tips for filling out another form:

    Answer as many questions as you can.
    Use the information you provided when you created the account, or last updated it.
    Submit the form from a computer you frequently use.
    You will be asked to list recently used email addresses and the subject lines from recent emails. Ask for help from family members, friends, or business contacts to confirm their email addresses and tell you the subject lines of the last three emails they sent you.
    Make sure to use the correct domain for your account, such as hotmail.com, live.com, or outlook.com. Keep in mind that your email address may be country specific. For example, if you created your account in Sweden, your domain would be “hotmail.co.se” rather than “hotmail.com”.

    Ready? “”

    Well, no. I am not ready you silly bint!
    They take security very seriiooouuussly. Right, and I take my life just as much seriously.
    The end. No more Hotmail, live and Microjokes for me.

    • So sorry to hear that didn’t work out Slate 🙁 I’ll keep my fingers crossed for you that you manage to regain access soon – but totally here with you agreeing that the situation absolutely sucks. Sorry I couldn’t do more to help. X

  86. I’m going through this madness now for the third time!
    My Hotmail account was blocked so I gave up and created an Outlook account. A few days later the Outlook account was blocked due to alleged spam. They wanted a mobile number which I don’t have overseas. I then created a second Outlook account and the same thing happened.
    I’m now going to try Gmail and if that gets blocked due to hacking or whatever then I’m stuck.
    I’ve never ever had a problem with using Hotmail overseas in the past but now it has become a problem since Microsoft took it over.
    Microsoft should be blocking the spammed email not our accounts. Why should we be punished for the evil someone else has done??!!!
    And even if we manage to unlock our accounts the same attack is just going to happen again and again. So Microsoft need to do something to stop our accounts being hacked.
    I guess the era of free email accounts that just worked without any issues is officially over.

    • Oh and thanks Megan for sharing your story. You’ve confirmed that I’m not the only one. It’s such a pain when you’re overseas and at the start of your vacation.
      I don’t know how the hackers are doing it but I think it must be on the free wifi networks in cities or on buses etc.

    • Hi Daniel – so sorry to hear you’re going through the same thing. I would definitely get as far away from Microsoft as you possibly can. Some people in the comments above have said that they’ve had similar issues with Gmail and Yahoo too, but I haven’t had any problems with Gmail since making the switch.

      Tips for future trips would be to use a VPN to mask your IP, then they won’t know you’re traveling.

      Haven’t heard of an account being blocked before for alleged spam, so that’s a new one to me. Totally agree with you though – common sense should surely kick in where they would block the spam but not the account.

      Hope you have more luck with Gmail. All the best X

  87. Currently dealing with a blocked gmail account. Gmail is not safe.

    • Hi Luke – sorry to hear you’re having issues with Gmail – I hope you manage to get it back soon. We’re heading on another round the world trip in August and I’m thinking I’m going to set up a VPN so it can’t tell I’m overseas.

  88. It happened to me when I Was in Thailad. I printed all my documents except for one that I booked when I was out there, then I lost access to my account, put my password in so many times that it blocked my account, not sure why as I know my password by heart. I then had to go through the process of filling in the verification form that I have done about 7 times now. I know that the information I am putting in is accurate so I am not sure what is going wrong? The last form I filled in almost instantly declined, the minute I pressed send. I got an instant email back declining my verification. I talked to an online agent who re-directed me to the form. 20 years lost, all my photos that I was due to transfer to a hard drive, all my work contacts, friends….accounts listed to this email. It’s heartbreaking, and I have no faith I will get it back 🙁

    • Hi Victoria – so sorry to hear this has happened to you too. I know how frustrating it is – when I was blocked, I was entering the same verification details as I had been the first time it happened, and they granted me access then, so I couldn’t figure out why it was such a hassle the second time around!!!

      Highly recommend reaching out to the twitter team – they may help you escalate the inquiry to an agent higher up than those you have been currently dealing with. That was ultimately how I regained my account.

      When you manage to get access back, highly recommend setting up as much back up verification as possible (secondary email addresses, linking your phone number etc), and I also take the precaution of having everything automatically forward to another account.

      I hope you get back into the account soon XXX

    • Yes x

  89. I have heard that China sometimes block G-mail so keep my other e-mail address going as well

    • That’s correct – China has a firewall that blocks quite a number of popular social media and google websites, though you can easily get around this by setting up a VPN before you go. I went last month and paid $12 for one month of Express VPN. Gmail worked fine. Happy travels!!

  90. Meg Jerrad
    It’s because many time hackers attempt to hack Hotmail account, so it’s Microsoft’s attempt to block them. Yes this feature trouble frequent travelers but to avoid this you can enable two step verification in Hotmail. So that you can get access to your account from any unknown location.
    After enabling 2 step verification, you can get code on authenticator app. If you are not planning to bring mobile along you can print those codes also.

    • Hi Nawa, thanks for reaching out 🙂 We understand the why behind blocking accounts, it’s just a little trigger happy in my opinion that it occurs.

      I totally agree with you though, in the wake of this having happened I would absolutely recommend 2 step verification, and any other form of verification you can set up 🙂

  91. Gmail is EVEN WORSE for locking you out of your account when travelling. Do yourself a favor and setup teamviewer on your computer at home and bring a flash drive with teamviewer installed on it so you can access it from your home computer. Also, setup an email client that you can use instead of logging into the main website. Setup fongo, google voice, truphone, textme, or a similar free telephone service on your cell phone that you can use for phone verification as well as free phone calls while travelling.

    If you don’t want to keep your computer on all the time to remote into while travelling you can setup an Amazon Web Services account and run an instance of Microsoft Window Server 2012/2008/etc. you can remote into and access from instead (just make sure that you’ve already verified it’s location so that google/microsoft already knows the IP address of your instance before you go travelling). Another thing you should have already is a VPN service, if you use your VPN to access your email then it will already be listed as a trusted location you can access your email from as well as it will protect you from the risks of public networks while travelling. Good Luck! 🙂

    • Also keep your recovery information up-to-date and ensure it includes not only telephone numbers but also alternative email addresses you can use to verify your identity.

    • Thanks for all of the great tips Justin – sorry to hear that Gmail has proven to be just as bad!!

      Since switching to Gmail, I’ve implemented a lot of your suggested security measures, like having a VPS when we’re traveling overseas, up to date recovery information, and two step verification on my phone.

      Haven’t heard of teamviewer though so that’s an interesting concept to look into. Thankyou for sharing such great tips 🙂

  92. I have just had exactly the same problem.

    2 options were given.

    1: Receive a text message code (my phone didn’t work because I was abroad).

    2: Get a code sent to gmail (gmail also locked me out of my emails).

    Which basically meant I couldn’t access my emails abroad, which I needed for so many reasons, including the fact that I was travelling with Ryanair who dont let you print off tickets will 7 days before travel.

    Also needed emails for business and many other reasons.

    Microsoft tech support recommend in future I leave my phone with someone I trust and get them to send me the code. Like I would give my phone to someone else to look through.

    Really annoyed with this experience.

    • Hi Dawud, so sorry to hear you’re going through this too. It’s a horrible experience and I feel your frustrations.

      When you get back, try setting up the two step verification with Gmail, it generates a code from your phone, but just needs an internet connection to work, the sim card itself doesn’t have to be working. I’ve found this to be a reasonably reliable method for me.

      Hope you can enjoy your trip in spite of this XX

  93. Hi Meg,
    I’m going through the same problem. I came to the UK and it was working fine and then got a new laptop and suddenly they think ‘someone else might be trying to log in’. So I tried the whole thing of retrieving my account. My alternate for this hotmail account which I have been using since late 90s is Yahoo. And same problem with Yahoo since it’s a new place. So I can’t access both accounts. And it’s frustrating. Gmail is a saving grace but hotmail is my primary account.

    I was wondering if you talked to the Hotmail people and verified in person? And how do you do that?

    Hope gmail is giving you no trouble anymore.

    • Hi Sunnivh

      Sorry to hear that this is happening to you too. Do you still have your old laptop? If it was working fine before you got your new onw, perhaps you could try to log back in from your old one, add some security like two step verification or change the alternate email to your Gmail and then try to log in from the new laptop.

      Or you could try and organize a VPN for your new computer to make it think you’re logging in from your home country and sometimes that often works. Then once again change everything, set up security like two step verification etc. I paid $7 for a one month access to Express VPN last month and it was great.

      I didn’t manage to speak to anyone from Hotmail or Microsoft in person – I was contacted via email by a person higher up than those I had previously been emailing once I started tweeting at them. Highly suggest taking to a public platform like that as it quite often sees quick results.

      Hope you manage to sort it out soon. Gmail has been giving me no trouble at all, though a couple of people in the comments above have mentioned they are also hit or miss.

  94. I am just experiencing this same this right now and it is BEYOND frustrating. Felt a little better to find your blog and see that I wasn’t alone in this RIDICULOUS battle getting into my own e-mails. I have failed that verification three times and there is literally nowhere to find help but your tip about Microsoft support on Twitter was great and has given me a glimmer of hope! Thank you!

    • Hope you have some success with Microsoft Support Caroline – so sorry to hear this is happening to you too. If it helps even just a little bit, you’re definitely not alone – we all feel your frustration and anger too!

      Hope it gets sorted out for you XXX

  95. Hey Meg,
    This happened to me three days ago and I seriously feel like I’m missing a limb. I’m trying all kinds of avenues without much success but thanks for this post. It has given me a glimmer of hope! Thanks.

    • Hi Claire, thanks for reaching out – so sorry to hear this is happening to you as well – it’s seriously crippling when it does!!!!

      Shoot @MicrosoftHelps a couple of tweets on twitter and see if the public forum approach works out for you.

      Hope it gets resolved as quickly as possible XX

  96. Megan,

    I am having the same nightmare, can’t access itinerary, travel e tickets. What a loads of idiots running hotmail and outlook
    No sense at all.

    I am going change the mail to some other provider
    I am experiencing exactly what you all experiencing. tks for sharing

    • Sorry to hear that Ramdil 🙁 I had no idea when posting this that there were so many other people in my same shoes. I hope they sort it out for you quickly and soon. XXX

  97. Have you considered using a business email account for business?

    • We have considered business emails, however we’re quite happy with how gmail has been performing since our issues with outlook. Made sure to set up every security measure for recovery like two step verification, phone authentication, etc, and that coupled with Express VPN means we haven’t seen any issues since.

  98. I dumped hotmail for anything important a long time ago, Microsoft is impossible to deal with. Now Gmail seems to be following in Hotmail’s footsteps. I have nine gmail accounts for various purposes, and an extension that checks these addresses. Today I made the mistake of trying to sign in from a new IP. Each and every @#$%!!! account was blocked, and I ended up having to change all the pw’s, which meant I had also to change them in the extension, and on my other computer. Completely disgusting.

    • 🙁 What a drama!! Sorry to hear that you’ve gone through this with Gmail Zeli … I’m starting to realize that the best way forward is to travel with a VPN so that you can connect to the internet and trick it into thinking you haven’t left the country. Stupid that you have to do that though!!

  99. This seems to make sense. I cannot get into my Yahoo! account on vacation in Thailand. I do not use a gmail account and cannot even recall the address since it has been a very long time since using it. I have two burn phones at home, somewhere, that I do not need or want on vacation. I cannot believe no one can produce my account here if I have the password!!! And what about answers to personal questions I surely gave Yahoo! decades ago?? Can’t they check ANYTHING??? I do NOT Twitter or use Facebook, so do not want to hear anything about those.

    • Hi David, sorry to hear this is happening to you also. It sounds like it’s a problem which is not just limited to hotmail then!!! So ridiculous that they’re blocking your access when you have the password and can provide personal information about the account.

      I hope that it doesn’t ruin your vacation in Thailand, and that you do regain access very soon … I’m not familiar with the recovery process at Yahoo, but I would guess it would be similar to the steps I had to go through in the above post.

  100. Well, it isn’t helping and I am not a techie, nor does it seem like anyone else in Thailand knows squat about such things. I managed to finally open an outlook.com account last night, only to not be able to get the password to work again this morning. Such garbage..just unbelievably flustered…cannot believe there is isn’t a human being that I can contact at the sorrya$$ Yahoo..there are some important things I need to coordinate and send and cannot believe I cannot access my own website to do it.

    • Unfortunately we’re not techies either, just regular travelers who this happened to as well. I’m sorry that the methods which helped me are not helping you.

      I understand how you feel though and agree that it’s horrible and very flustering.

      A few things I have suggested to people in the comments above are that if you have someone you can contact at home or work who you trust, you could ask them to see if they are able to login since it might take more kindly to being accessed from an IP address in your home state.

      Or attempting to install a VPN (We use Express VPN which is $12 a month but there are many others which are free) and seeing if you can gain access by connecting online through a server based in your home state.

      That’s everything in my toolkit of tricks though at this point if none of the advice in the post is working for you.

      Hope you regain access soon.

    • We have been conducting tests on this issue, to try and determine how exactly we need to set up a Microsoft account in order for it to remain operational, and avoid it getting Suspended. We do not have a definitive answer yet, BUT: we suspect that 2-factor authentication may help. We have one test acount here with 2FA that has remained operational for some weeks, and all we do with it is run Skype. We have created another test account where we logged in immediately after account creation (to avoid the “no activity in the first 10 days” rule), but this was not successful, and this account too got Suspended. Maybe if we wait 24 hours before logging in for the first time, the account will remain operational. Anyway, it takes a couple of weeks to work through a test – we have one more test account with 2FA that we created on 20-Jan-17. It does not use the Microsoft Authenticator app, it uses an alternate email. If this account remains OK and does not get suspended, I will post another reply here.

    • Hi Dave. I have been trying to get answers from Microsoft for 2 months, but they will not provide any. When you phone support, you eventually get to the point that they escalate it to the Global Escalations Team. This Team always respond with something similar to the following (ie. they will not tell you anything), and they sometimes point you to a 3rd option, the Online Safety Team – abuse@outlook.com. The latter never respond, ever.
      So my only suggestion is to work with Microsoft Support this time around to unblock your account to get you going. Then, when you have the time, perhaps you too can contact Microsoft Support, and try to get somewhere with Global Escalations and Online Safety Team. Perhaps if they hear from enough frustrated customers, they might decide to listen. I’d be very interested if you too get a brick wall from Microsoft, or if it’s just me!

      Typical Response from Global Escalation Team:

      Hi,
      Thank you for contacting Microsoft account Global Escalations Team. We were notified that your account has been suspended.
      Upon checking the account, there’s no more blockage on the account. Please be informed that we are unable to discuss to you or disclose any further information pertaining to the suspension.
      You may contact our Online Safety Team regarding this matter. You may contact them through abuse@outlook.com.
      Let us know if you have further questions.
      Thank you,
      Microsoft account Global Escalations Team

    • Hi Karl, keep us updated on the results of your testing – I would love to know if you come up with anything! I think you’re right that 2-factor authentication … am very interested to know your findings 🙂

  101. For the first time ever after enjoying countless vacations to Thailand, this one has been nothing short of pure aggravation and worry thanks to crap from Yahoo! which after 20 years won’t let me in my own account EVEN WHEN THE JERKS have had my answers to personal questions for decades! So why would they SUDDENLY this year demand alternate e-mail addresses for verification? Has it ever occurred to anyone there that not everyone has an alternate address, or has even used it in the last 10 years if they did?

    Oh, call a friggin’ phone they say. I have two burn phones, never owned a smartphone, and do not even know where either of them are since I haven’t used them in months. I am on VACATION as well, so they aren’t even in this country. Also, I never take my ipad abroad and do NOT want to be reached ever by anyone but my girlfriend, who is usually snuggled up to or only a few feet away from me.

    So to do my normal e-mail has become a real IMPOSSIBILITY here and I don’t see myself ever returning to this place or Yahoo! (Verizon should transfer my account to me, then raze that crapass company to the ground).

    There should be, at EVERY company, an easy-to-access telephone line in the country where you are located, with a real HUMAN BEING on the other end who can access your profile, data, account, etc. and determine if you are legit in real time if security is a real concern. That is COMMON SENSE and customer-oriented (a forgotten aspect of today’s money-grubbing, lazy businesses). What if I needed access to my account to my account for an emergency rather than for business purposes?

    Dave Hamilton (hamildav@yahoo.com)
    Heidelberg, Germany

  102. BTW Karl, I did try abuse@outlook.com, but after struggling to write that rant for over an hour, the turds response said it could not be sent because my address was not “configured” correctly. I wish I had the power to fire every single geek who spouts such nonsense. I am an expert and specialist in other real fields of importance, not gobbledygook and nebulous imbecility as these IT companies dirty us with.

  103. This is one reason why I always use Astrill when traveling. I need to stay connected through social media and with my email all the time.

    • Haven’t heard of Astrill before, thanks for the tip Don 🙂 Will check it out.

  104. Hey Meg, great to read about your travels. Gotta say I”m feeling the hotmail pain. Moved from Aust. to Vietnam, locked out, paid heaps to get the phone code from home, had to turn on roaming from OS, just don’t ask that was a sh*tfight on its own. Now in India, same deal.

    However, there is one thing hotmail overlooked in their efforts to make email access impossible for people operating outside their bounds of perception, namely travelers. I still have email access on my phone, go figure.

    My gmail acc. continues to operate without a hitch regardless of where I login from. Scared to death of revisiting the password recovery process with gmail, while I still have access.

    It seems publicity may have elicited some action for you from them. I would love to see public awareness elevated to the point that people leave outlook in droves. Perhaps that would get some changes.

    Cheers,

    Rob

    • Hi Rob, thanks for commenting with your experience – sorry to hear it’s been a shit fight for you too!!

      Yes, I’m considering myself lucky that writing this post seemed to grab their attention over at Microsoft and I had access back within a couple of days (of writing it). Hoping to spread as much awareness as I possibly can because it can really wreck whatever you’ve got going on in life.

      Glad to hear you’ve still got access on your phone. My Gmail has been perfect since I made the switch – though I enables as much backup security as I could after I went through this.

      Hope you regain access soon.

  105. Email Support Numbers provide 24X7 resolution for issues related to any hotmail services like account recovery, email block, login issues and more. With the support of our helpdesk experts, we provide solutions related to such problems directly with our hotmail customer service number.

    • Personally I would be hesitant to use a third party tech support when Microsoft doesn’t provide a support system themselves.

    • Xxx

  106. An outstanding share! I habe just forwarded this onto a coworker who was doing a little
    research on this. And he in fact bought me lunch simply because
    I found it for him… lol. So allow me to reword this….
    Thank YOU for the meal!! But yeah, thanx for spending time to discuss tthis
    subject here on your web page.

    • Thankyou Audry, I’m glad that the info posted has helped your co-worker, lol and that finding the post got you a free lunch!! Anything I can do! Lol 😀

      Hope he regains access to his account soon

  107. I am having the same problem right now. I am in Cancun and suddenly Hotmail and half my other applications won’t work unless I sign into them again. I didn’t bring my password book as I have never had this problem before even though I have taken a computer outside the US dozens of times. Even MS Word and One Drive want me to sign-in again just to access documents. It is like I am being discriminated-against for taking my laptop outside the US. I wonder if in the future I will need to call Microsoft before foreign travel like I have to notify my credit cards?

    • Hi Mark,
      If you manage to login to live.com again, configure your Microsoft Account to send security info to an alternate email address. If you can access that email address, you will be able to retrieve Microsoft security codes and password reset messages to get you going again with most programs. Maybe create yourself a gmail account.

      This will save you most of the time. If however you get “Suspended”, there is nothing you can do other than to follow the painful Microsoft security procedures.

  108. Oh no. I just came across this blog post and it made me feel really sick. The amount of documents I have stored on my Microsoft account. It has never even crossed my mind that I might lose access to it completely. I always thought it would be recoverable. Ok I better save my work on a separate hard disk. I just need to be more organised about the whole thing. Yikes

    • Hi Katharina – I highly recommend backing up your most important documents somewhere in addition to your hotmail account – and putting in place as much two step verification as possible, making sure you have recovery email accounts, and even a phone number set up to allow re-access if you get locked out.

      That said, I hope it never happens to you! Happy travels 🙂

    • Hi Katharina,
      You are in a good position – you haven’t been locked out yet! So I highly recommend you do the following ….
      – login at login.live.com
      – Security – Update info – Add Security Info:
      – add at least one alternate email address
      – more options: create a Recovery Code

      Keep a hard copy of that Recovery Code, or stick it onto your Google Drive (or some other place that will still work after your Microsoft Account is suspended) in case you ever need it.

      If you are 100% certain your mobile phone will always be with you ….
      – Security – Update info – Add Security Info:
      – more options: setup 2 Step Verification

  109. I’m travelling through Russia right now en route to China. I get a lot out of using a VPN while travelling. Not as big an issue with email (except for privacy) but if I need to access Facebook or other sites blocked by the great firewall, the VPN is a great tool.

    • Absolutely David – I used Express VPN throughout China and it was great for bypassing the Great Firewall 🙂 Hope you have a wonderful trip!

    • Who are you guys using for VPN access? I have a trip to China coming up and hadn’t even thought of this yet! With Blogging and Vlogging a fast VPN is a big bonus so i can keep my content coming even while i’m “in country”

    • I used Express VPN while I was in China, and it worked perfectly. Something like $13 for a month’s access, and they give you a code to enact on your devices and phone as well as your desktop under the same plan.

  110. I’m in the same boat, but I do use Gmail. Ugh! This is nuts! I’m glad they EVENTUALLY helped even though the lengths to which you had to go for that to happen are insane!

    • 🙁 Sorry to hear that Katie, that sucks!! When you get your access back, highly recommend two step verification, and if you’re traveling, I now also use a VPN which masks my IP address and connects to the internet from servers at home.

      I hope they sort it for you quickly!!

  111. Did not have to even travel outside my house for this to happen, i have since left hotmail, they were fine they way they were. Someone thinks they need to keep changing things though. Thats fine, as long as you dont block out half of your customers in the process. Furthermore, assuming that you cant possibly check your email from another device and your computer on the same day is just obsurd. It seems to me they worry more about updating their interface and graphics schemes than they do keeping things the same and functional ‘under the hood’. This is why google has been a success – because it doesnt change (too much) it’s interface and if it does, it gives you a choice most times.

    • Oh wow, that takes it to a whole new level, getting locked out when you’re not even traveling! So sorry to hear that Gabriel – I totally hear you though on not needing to fix something which isn’t broken!! I swear half the time their updates only make things worse!!

      And absolutely on the devices – right now I’m responding to you on my desktop, with my phone sitting next to me, and iPad up in the bedroom. Each one is logged into my email.

      Yes, I really like Google – since moving to Gmail I’ve had absolutely no stress.

  112. I have to say that to me, your account does not reflect the actual complexity which is involved. Though I have to acknowledge that you label this as a rant. I would think that accounts tend to get breached frequently and that in the majority of cases, the breaching happens from a notable distance. This needs to be addressed in order to contribute to the integrity of a system. There are multiple problems that come with this, one being that informing customers about implementations to address this may inform attackers as well, which may undermine their efficacy. Another is that it is not always easy to know whether someone is sincere or solely pretending to be so. In addition, there needs to be a balance between the need to prove trustworthiness and the risk involved with providing personal information. It appears that the implementation you described here three years ago may not have been working properly. After some research it appears that it would have been possible to enter a verification code which would have been sent to a mobile phone which presumably should have been linked to the account prior to travelling. I also think that if someone is in the rather privileged position of earning an income through travelling and publishing articles about said travels on the internet, respectively through advertisement, they have the responsibility to prepare accordingly. Finally, I find the caption to one of your pictures rather interesting. You write that you are frustrated with trying to manage this situation instead of enjoying your stay. I understand you, but at the same time you mention in your post that there are many things that you are unable to do. To me this raises the question whether one really is able to enjoy travels while being preoccupied with all of the work that comes with it, regardless of whether there are account issues.

    • Hi Imaximi, thanks for sharing your perspective. I understand that security is a concern in today’s online world, however I don’t agree that I have underestimated the complexities involved. For a large company like Microsoft to not offer adequate customer support is pretty poor in my view – once an actual agent looked at my case on it’s own merits, (as opposed to an automated system sending a template response) I was granted access again. However this level of service (which is pretty basic in my view) was only offered after I launched a very public campaign about my issue.

      Obviously I was using a free account at the time, so I wasn’t exactly paying for “service”, though I do feel that there should be a certain level of responsibility on Microsoft’s part to step up their systems to be practical for the present day.

      Yes, there are many options nowadays for added security, like two step verification, and offline apps you can use to generate codes for re-access. And I highly recommend people set this up before they attempt to use their email overseas. One of the main points of this post was to educate people on how they could learn from my mistakes, and not go through the same.

      Implementation was obviously not working 3 years ago, however there are close to 300 comments on this post which would suggest that it is still an issue to this day.

      To your point about enjoying your travels while working abroad, that’s a completely different conversation. However many people these days choose travel as a lifestyle, and achieve a balance of both. And for those who do choose to lead a location independent lifestyle (digital nomads is how they are often described), having access to your business accounts is vital.

    • Your last sentence has the key word: Business. If you want better service, usually you have to pay for it. In the case of evil Google, you pay with your privacy & still can get locked out forever.

  113. Gosh! This whole episode flipped me out totally. An entire e-mail account disappearing is scary. Infact after reading this I checked on my hotmail and yes, it’s gone. I was never really using it in the recent past but the contacts are gone and I don’t have them anywhere else. I really don’t know if I should do something about it or just let it be without calling out the concerned people. Thanks for writing about this.

    • Hi Vrushali, yes, it’s quite scary how much reliance we have on our emails, and how much information we store solely in our emails. Sorry to hear that your hotmail is gone too – it’s never fun trying to collect all your contacts from scratch again! If it really doesn’t affect you perhaps you can let it be. But if you really do need those contacts there’s nothing wrong with trying to get it back again. Sorry you had to find out this way!!

  114. I too had this similar problem around same time last year, but luckily recovered fast. I guess it was something at their end that caused this major goof up.

    • Glad it was recovered quickly for you Indrani! I would implement two step verification if you haven’t done so already as a security measure in case it happens again (fingers cross it won’t though!)

  115. There could be many issues if you are not able to login to your Hotmail account like your account is deactivated, account hacked, account temporarily blocked, forget username of password and much more.

    • Absolutely. Annoying that there are so many opportunities to be blocked!

  116. I have to say I found this post so funny, because I’ve thought this for so long regarding their outlook and browser IE. You know that there has got to be a problem when every programmer and designer I’ve met or read posts or done research regarding these have the same to say. You have to add all these exceptions in code and design in order to make a website or email look decent. Why is it ONLY outlook and IE. Seriously, why don’t they fix the freaking problem which has been around since I’ve been doing design… over 15 years! What is wrong with them! I see its not just design and code where people have these frustrations with their system of thinking, its so illogical… they need to just fix it all or scrap it. Evidently, they just scrapped IE. thank you! now please fix outlook!

    • Yes it’s quite incredible how the problem has been persisting for well over a decade now, but there doesn’t seem to be any inclination to fix it. Glad I scrapped outlook personally!

  117. Access to my .mac account including iCloud and emails has been shut down since I came into Mexico from the US. 6 hours of help tries from 3 senior apple advisers got nowhere. I complained to the local internet company. they reset something and I could get thru. Two hours later – locked out again. Not yet resolved. Oddly, I can access the Apple account with my cell phone over the same wifi network.
    Apple said it could be something the local guys put out that Apples computers see as bad, and I get locked out.
    It’s a mystery…

    • Really strange! Sorry to hear this is happening Jerry – perhaps you can try a VPN to help; they allow you to connect via servers in your home country so the websites you’re using can’t tell that you’ve left home. We use Hotspot Sheild at the moment and it’s been great.

  118. Wow! That happened to me, too. I practically lost my account. And after I didn’t get access I definitely stopped using Outlook and started using only Google Gmail that I find easier and safer to avoid headaches in the future. This is a really boring situation and I wonder how your frustration was with that. Thank you for sharing with us.

    • Sorry to hear that you’ve gone through this too Marcio. But very smart move to stop using Outlook after you got your account back. I’ve found Gmail to have a lot less hassles too.

  119. wow nice article really teachable i love it!!

    • Glad the post was helpful 🙂

  120. Megan, I wouldn’t trust gmail, either. I almost never access anything using my Google account, because every single time I do, it blocks me and then emails me (at my non-gmail email address) to tell me that someone (which was me) has just tried to access my Google account using my password (which I happen to know because it was ME doing it!).
    I now have three Google accounts, all linked to the same non-gmail email address, all with the same personal details, none of which I can use because Google doesn’t trust anyone who knows my password to have legitimate access to my account.
    Have you ever read Kafka? This is the kind of story he’d be writing if he was writing today.

    • Hi Liz, sorry to hear you’ve had similar bad luck with Gmail. I haven’t had any issues since I made the switch from hotmail a couple of years ago, but I did set up a crazy amount of two step verification at the time, and have had to confirm my account with phone codes a couple of times. I hope your non Gmail account is good though!

      I haven’t come across Kafka before, I’ll Google him 🙂

  121. thanks

    • You’re welcome John, I hope the post was helpful for you.

  122. Meg, I feel your pain.

    • Sorry to hear you’ve gone through the same 🙁 Hope they sort it out for you!

  123. Hi Meg,

    This exact same thing has happened to me and I haven’t even been travelling! Told to give details of sent emails etc so did that several times to no avail – and now they tell me it’s closed. That account has all manner of important business and personal data that I have no other way of accessing. It’s just the same as the postman breaking into your house and stealing all of your letters. Totally outrageous and terrible publicity for Microsoft.

    • Hi Johnathan, I’m sorry to hear that you’re having to deal with this too. We wrote this post almost 4 years ago now and literally nothing has changed!!!

      I hope you’re able to regain access to your account quickly.

    • Yes, nothing much has changed. BUT I have found the following link, which speeds up the process of reinstating your account:

      https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/concern/AccountReinstatement

      Give them all the info you have, in particular
      Recovery Code
      Unique ID
      Alternate Email
      Date Of Birth

      If you don’t have these LOGIN TO MICROSOFT, CREATE THEM NOW and then record them. It took 12 hours for a response, and then my latest blocked account was fixed. Much quicker that Microsoft Support Chat, who cannot actually unblock your account anyway.

    • Thanks for the heads up Karl 🙂

  124. I lost access to my main Gmail account a while back and it took me weeks to get back in. To this day I can’t figure out why I was blocked. I wasn’t on the road and hadn’t logged in from any strange places. I finally regained access with the help of a Yahoo CS rep. My recovery email was a yahoo email (which I had also lost access to!) and the rep was able to help me out. Google help was totally useless. I wouldn’t have bothered with the account except that it has all my contacts, important emails, etc., so I could not abandon it. Now, I have passwords and such stored in several different places, along with info. I might need to recover the account should I be denied access ever again.

    • Sorry to hear you’ve had the same issue with Gmail as well – super strange that you can’t even attribute it to anything!! I guess no email provide is above these issues then 🙁 I’ve not personally run into any issues with Gmail since having made the switch, but I do have a bucketload of recovery options now set up, with back up codes, email recoveries as well as my phone.

      Like you I also have documents with my passwords (and answers to security questions as I tend to forget what I set over time haha!).

      Hope it doesn’t happen to you again 🙂

  125. Wow, that’s boring … I’ve heard a similar case that happened to a friend in my town. Good thing you got it sorted out.

    • Yep it’s not the greatest!

  126. I have been through this too, but after getting support with the company responsible, after 5 days I got the access back to my account.

    • Glad to hear you got access back quickly Rick 🙂

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