To help protect Hotmail customers, Microsoft introduced a number of new features and technologies to safeguard accounts, including new methods of proving ownership like single-use codes and trusted PCs, trusted senders in the inbox, full-session SSL encryption, and more. And at a broader level, Microsoft also continues to hunt down cyber-criminals and illegal botnets that generate billions of spam messages daily, and shut them down.
Most people know that banks and credit card companies monitor usage patterns for suspicious activity -- and many people have had their financial institutions briefly suspend their accounts and contact them to double-check account activity and ensure the rightful owner is still in charge. In our network of over 1 billion email accounts, unfortunately, a few customers run into this problem every day.
Here's how you'll know:
- Next time you sign in to Hotmail or one of other websites, you'll be asked to complete a few simple steps to verify your identity, change your password (as a precaution), and then double check all of your info to ensure that nobody else has changed anything without your knowledge. We call this the account recovery wizard, and in addition to verifying that you're you, we also encourage you to add extra pieces of information to your account to make it even more secure (we call these "proofs"). Adding a mobile phone number, alternate email, or trusted PC makes it harder for criminals to access your account and easier for you to recover if they do.
- If you access Hotmail using a program like Outlook, Windows Live Mail, or software on your mobile phone, you'll see an error (usually that there's a problem with your username or password). You'll need to log in online at www.hotmail.com to see if your account has a problem and access the account recovery wizard. If you see your inbox, then you weren't compromised and can continue as normal.
Below is a video showing the account recovery wizard and then another demonstrating how you can add proofs to your account to help prevent this in the future.
Most people should be able to recover their account in just a few minutes by answering a few questions or using their alternative email address or mobile phone. If you run into issues, we do have support agents online to help at Password Reset. But it's usually only a few minutes to recover your account yourself -- so try that first before asking support to help.