A couple of days ago my computer got a virus that sent bogus emails out to everyone I knew. It was one of those “click on this blue link for some amazing photos” things. I was dumb. Trouble is when I clicked on the link, it went through my address book and emailed the same email to everyone in my adress book. Some of them probably clicked on the link too. I have a few email addresses, but this happened in my main account, which i use for 95 per cent of my stuff.
Hotmail then decided I had “exceeded my daily email limit” on my main account, so it wouldn’t let me send anything out from that account. What was I to do? How was I to warn people not to click on this link? I needed to let people know what had happened. I had a cunning plan!
Realising my main account had been hacked, I copied all the addresses I could from there into the address bar in the main account. (It let me do that, even though it wasn’t going to let me send the email.) Then I cut and pasted that list to another (secondary) email accout I have, and used that account to send out a mass email telling people “don’t click on that blue link.” I also have a 3rd and 4th account. Couldn’t log in to them.
But Hotmail had an even more cunning plan. They decided they would lock my main account because it looked like it was being used for spam. They were right. Trouble was before they unlocked it, they wanted me to prove I was me! This involved filling in a big form with my phone number, my secret question, the email addresses of several people I had recently emailed, the headings in the emails, and the names of the email folders I had created in my main account. Since I haven’t been using those folders for over a year, I had trouble remembering those folder names. I took some guesses.
I also got on the phone to my friends. “What was the last email I sent you? What was the heading. What’s your email address? (I can’t remember them: that’s why we have address books!)
In the meantime, I asked hotmail to send me a reset link to another account linked to the first one. Guess what. I couldn’t get into that account. And I asked for several temporary log codes in to be sent to my phone by SMS. The hotmail login page rejected them all.
Now hotmail had blocked my account, and my alternate accounts: I couldn’t get into any of them, and there seems no way to contact a human at hotmail. (I tried phoning them, but since I wasn’t paying for some service I’d never heard of, I didn’t get to speak to a person. I got redirected around a series of web pages that took me back to the start of the circle and on again.
Eventually one of the telephone reset numbers worked on one account. Then I got them to send a SMS log-in number for my first account to account number three. I got my account back, apparently none the worse for being hacked.
But here’s two words of warning. If you use hotmail, keep a list of the folders you’ve created for incoming mail. One day you may have to prove that you are you. And if you can’t remember your own folder names, you could be in trouble.
Anybody out there had similar experiences with an email provider?