How to recover an account if you haven’t already added security information to it

A reader asks:

What can I do if my account has been hacked and I haven’t already added security information to it?

It would be easier to recover your account if you had already associated it with information that cybercriminals can’t easily access, like your mobile phone number or an alternate email address. For example, if your account is compromised, Microsoft could send you an account-recapture code in a text message to help you regain access to your account. If you do have access to your account, add security information to your account now.

If you haven’t already added security information to your account 

Scan your PC for viruses

If your account has been hacked and you can’t get access to it, the first thing you should do is scan your computer for viruses. Do this before you try to change your password. Hackers get your password through malware that’s been installed on your PC without your knowledge (for example, when you download a new screen saver, toolbar, or other software from an untrustworthy source.) It’s important to clear your PC of viruses or malware before you change your password. That way, the hackers won’t get your new password.

If your computer is running Windows 8

Use the built-in Windows Defender to help you get rid of a virus or other malware.

Here’s how:

  1. From the Search charm, search for defender, and then open Windows Defender.
  2. On the Home tab, choose a scan option, and then tap or click Scan now.

In addition to the color codes for your PC’s overall security status, Windows Defender applies an alert level to any suspected malware it detects. You can decide whether to remove an item entirely, research it further, or let it run because you recognize it.

If your computer is running Windows 7 or Windows Vista

Get more help removing viruses

Reset your password

Once you’ve scanned your computer for viruses, reset the password on your account.

If you can’t reset your password, and you haven’t already added security information to your account, you can still get back into the account by filling out a questionnaire. You will be asked specific questions about the account and email messages that might be stored there. Someone will get back to you within 24 hours (typically a lot sooner).

For more information, see How to recover your hacked Microsoft account.

About the Author
Eve Blakemore

Group Manager, Trustworthy Computing

Eve Blakemore is a Group Manager for Trustworthy Computing who delivers consumer guidance around the latest trends in security and privacy. Eve joined Microsoft in 1998 and has worked in corporate and field roles with Microsoft Learning, US Public Sector, Read more »

Join the conversation

  1. Anonymous

    can I get someone to call me because I don't know what to do im in need to ask for help

  2. Anonymous

    Can you help me get my password for outlook express? Codes don't work for me and the voice is to fast and unclear

  3. Anonymous

    Im trying to get into my account but I cannot find it  never used the computer for this information

  4. Anonymous

    I have been trying to recover my account for the last few days and I am finding it impossible because I have forgotten some of the personal details expected in this process. I have got some information but it isn't enough for the automatic routines.

    I have received insufficient support from your online agents – they are providing me no solution to solve the problem and sending me round in circles with the same advice that isn't working.

    How should I be expected to feel about your support team, when they close off my call, without having helped me to find a solution to the problem.

    I cant be the first person to not be able to remember details of set up from over 10 years ago – how can I get some customer support from Microsoft for my problem ?

  5. Anonymous

    my Hotmail acct is unaccesible by me. its frustrating. you ask me for another email account to send me my security code and I don't have one.  I cant access my Hotmail account. this is stupid ive had this ac ct for at least 10 plus years.

    I just accessed it yesterday and now I cannot. 

  6. Anonymous

    Can someone please contact me in regards to recoverying my account.  I am confused as to why I received a recovery note when I signed on.  I use my hotmail account on a daily basis and need to access at least my contacts list.

     I have requested a new code from hotmail to go to this account but it hasn't come  through yet.  Please assist.  

  7. Anonymous

    I have not been able to access my account for several days. I have given an alternate email address and been sent a  four figure code number.  When I entered this a message came up saying that I needed five digits. I am unable to find a way either to access my account, or to get help. I need some help or at least some signposting as to where I can find some.

  8. Anonymous

    I have had my hotmail account for over 10 years . i think someone tried to hack my account. i have tried filling in the questionnaire but you went ahead and blocked my account. i asked for the code but i have not received any code on my phone either. you asked for an alternative email which i gave only for you to email me telling me that u have blocked my account.

    i am frustrated noting that i have saved so much data on sky drive and cannot access it. Kindly help me.. you can confirm this number with the details that i gave when opening the account since i have not changed my telephone number.

    i have changed my passwords several times and i indicated that on the questionnaire. Urgently help me Out.


    Nicholas mwangi

  9. Anonymous

    Has anyone helped these hotmail accounts?  I have the same problem they are having?  I need access now!

  10. Anonymous

    I can't get back into my account and it is very frustrating since I have had this account for over 14 years.  I can't remember some of the answers to the questionnaire and it says I "just need to move on and start another account!"  I can't seem to do that since all of my user names refer to my email account and for my Microsoft programs that I bought, use my Hotmail as my ID.  Can someone please help me?  I'm so frustrated right now because I can't even seem to find a number to call for assistance!

  11. Anonymous

    I can't get into my account. it asks me to use another e-mail address. I don't have one so I can't receive a security code. now what do I do? I cant even access my e-mail?

  12. Anonymous

    Yesterday  I was hacked and tried to reset my password. I filled in all the appropriate forms and was told Microsoft would get back to me in 24 hours or less on the new account I set up. Well over 24 hours later I have heard nothing. I am really worried that the hackers are still using my account to send malicious emails. What is happening?

  13. Anonymous

    can't access my Hotmail acct. for reason… someone suspected using it??? computer literate though not an expert… definitely sure no one is using it. did the last 4 nos. plus 13 & still did not provide a security code??? tried the long way… filled personal info's twice as much as I can remember & still say not enough. tried a 3rd time today & told to try later again. been w/you guys for at least 20 yrs. (starting late 80's or early 90's). appreciate that though likewise so confused??? this is very inconvenient (big-time). everything is connected w/this acct. no disrespect, but not sure what is really wanted of me??? will appreciate help (big-time) w/my predicament. already gave an alternate email address & sure do hope I get a reply via this message. thank you very much…

  14. Anonymous

    I am not able to access my hotmail account for two days now. I cannot remember my alternate email and password what do I do?

  15. Anonymous

    I have followed all processes /codes etc to recover my account  without success similar to a lot of other posts.


  16. Anonymous

    I have requested help with getting my old email, back as I deleted it and I did not want to do that…so I did get another email well, you sent me information to recover my old email address…well as above it is very frustrating to try and remember the information you want to recover…as I can see above from others that they are having problems too. when I signed up like 15 years ago I had this email and I so want to get it back…how do you suggest I get it…besides trying to remember a bunch of stuff I don't remember….couldn't you ask me something that is easier …please help me…I don't want to lose all my contacts etc.

    Thanking you in advance for any help you can give me…


  17. Anonymous

    I received a recovery note when I signed on.  I use my hotmail account daily. I tried to add my mobile phone number to my security info, but your automatic settings would not allow it until I input my "security code" but I can't receive the "security code" until I input my mobile phone number.  Endless loop.

  18. Anonymous

    I have two msn acct I am tring to recover my acct but the link you sent me to change my security on the acct doesn't work I have been locked out of that acct for 3 months now please email me the right link so I can get into my acct thank you

  19. Anonymous

    I am having the same problem. All  was fine in the early hours of the 29th March when I had emails from Giff gaff, now I'm locked out of my email account saying the network password has changed, sends me to the recover your microsoft account page, and wont let me submit the details of all the securuty questions it asks, the page just sits there.. please assist!

  20. Anonymous

    I have been going around for 3 days trying to get to my emails.  You make me send a Code to an old account that I have but do not use so I can't access it all I want is to get my emails enough of this security sh..t!  Someone contact me please!!!!!!!!!!

  21. Anonymous

    I tried to recover a password & my account was cancelled for 30 days. I was sent a 4 digit code when I need a 7 digit code. Anything I do keeps bringing back to the same code recovery page. I can browse & access my e mail. This is a new lap top with programs I've never used. I can't access programs I need for the volunteer work I'm involved in. My Lap Top keeps coming up with errors I can't correct because of this. The program keeps using an e mail address I haven't used in a couple of years & can't edit my security profile. Please call me so I can get on with my volunteer work.

  22. Anonymous

    I am having the same issue I have had Hotmail for almost 20 years and now I cant' do anything because you want a 5 digit security code and I don't know it.  You send me a 4 digit code for what that doesn't work.  I even pay yearly extra amount for additional email data.

  23. Anonymous

    enabled  two step in security in my account , never received an email with an MCID or a code now can not get into my account to remove that dum two stepthat is nothing but trouble, and grandson cant get into his xbox live and seems no one can help for you cant get a person to talk too.

  24. Anonymous

    I've been trying to get into my Hotmail account since last week.  I do not have a computer at home so I use the ones in my local library.  You're asking for a security code.  I don't know if I have one. If I do, I would like the code sent to my cell phone; BUT THE STUPID SYSTEM WILL NOT LET ME CHANGE THE NUMBER ON FILE, even though I hit the button that says I no longer have these numbers.  Also, this is the only email account I have (and I've had it close to 20 years.)  PLEASE PLEASE open my account, with my original password.  Thank you.

  25. Anonymous

    How do i change my security info as i lost my cell phone that was used for my security  an i wish to change my security info please can you help thanks

  26. Anonymous

    I had problems with getting into my account  an i need help in changing my security info so can you email me info on how to change that 

  27. Anonymous

    Okay please help get me back to my e-mail. I use it for work and the email u code to is no longer mine. you sent code to my email available now but it is only 4 numbers and it says I need seven!!!!What is up??????

  28. Anonymous

    Exactly the same problem . i created a new account to get sent code. Code I enetered has 4 numbers, not 7. Keeps defaulting to an account I can't access. Absolutely no help anywhere.

  29. Anonymous

    Same thing here…I have 3 accounts and it started with one now I can't access ANY. I NEED this for job searching!!

  30. Anonymous

    Hackers got into my account and changed my passwords for Facebook and email and I'm trying to recover it I've awnserd some of the questions but not all and they haven't gotten back to be and it's nearly been 24 hours should I fill it out again??

  31. Anonymous

    I tried to get into my account but it says that my account is temp blocked, I haven't been able to get any codes either.

  32. Anonymous

    My account is stolen and my security phone number has been changed. 

  33. Anonymous

    Microsoft outlook email is starting to TEE me off. Looks like going to gmail or yahoo might be better. I  can't get my hotlail email contacts , Oh well life with mirosoft will have to just stop. Going to see what Netscape has. Good luck to you all, GG

  34. Anonymous

    Where can I see answers for these questions or comments from this site.

  35. Anonymous

    I called two days ago and talked briefly and apparently we lost our connection,I have recently gotten a different computer it does not recognize my e-mail,my passwords,Ican not get into my e-mail account where many e-mails are backing up,most that I needto delete,please help me.

  36. Anonymous

    I've forgotten my password for one account so it asked me for my other address so it could send a code. I have 100% entered the correct email address but am yet to receive any code whatsoever, I'm so angry, I need to access it asap and I don't know the addresses of people i have emailed recently and i have no groups so can't provide enough info for you to accept the questionnaire! Argh!!!

  37. Anonymous

    im having all the same problems as above…HELP.!!!!

  38. Anonymous

    You blocked my account and sent a security code to my secondary email. I am then happy and see a 4-digit security code. I then log in to the blocked email, I enter the 4-digit code you gave me to unblock and then you write that the code should be 5-digits.!!!!!   How can that be – what can I possibly do. ? So so frustrating ….

  39. Anonymous

    I am quite frustrated everytime log on hotmail being asked about security code. the varification account I gave more than 10 years ago is no more valid… and no way I can get the security code to varify myself!!! this is rediculous, and I notice everytime if I log in from different IP adress this will happen… does this mean that I can only use hotmail home?!?!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  40. Anonymous

    I have been asked for a code to get into my hotmail, been trying for a week or so. It says its sent a code to my e-mail that is ironic as its the one i cant get into and i dont an alternative account.. Stupid idea Microsoft.. So i tried the option to txt me the code, ive not received that either. I need to use my hotmail most days. How am i supposed to get into my e-mails?

    Can anybody help please?

  41. Anonymous

    I have been asked to update my security and have followed the instructions but now can't get on to my emails. They say I can use my account and they will send me an email on 20/7/14, have I got to wait a month before I can get in to my emails?

  42. Anonymous

    I can't access my account and its been days. Its really important that I check these emails and now it's impossible! This is the worst hotmail set up ever.

    I've tried using "contact suppot" load of rubbish – no assistance or related forums to help

    I've googled at least 5 pages to see if anyone has this issue and resolved it – Nothing!

    I have followed every step provided, multiple times to try recover my account

    I answered the security questions correctly

    I gave names of subject lines I recieve daily

    I gave email addresses I recieve emails from daily

    I gave names of folders I created

    I gave credit card details on the account

    I gave my home address (linked to my hotmail account)

    I gave a NEW email address to recover my account with

    I recieved an email to reset my password, and I did

    But when I go to sign back in – I need to recieve a "security code" from an OLD email address I can't even remember nor the password!

    I'm fuming! … I see other people are having the same issue yet we can not speak to an actual person to report this to.

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