What Do You Do When Your Hotmail Gets Hijacked?

Richard says his wife’s Hotmail account was hacked, and now she can’t get into her email or fix the problem via Microsoft’s customers service online or over the phone. He writes:

Some time this morning (10/21) my wife’s Hotmail account was taken over. We’re not sure how they gained access to the account as she avoids all forms of spam and doesn’t visit any illicit sites. Maybe it was this fiasco? Anyway, I found out about it because I received an obvious spam message from the account (so did several others in her contacts) and called her about it. She then found herself unable to log in (her password has been changed) or reset the password (her security answers have also been changed). Sounds like time for customer support, except there is no phone customer support directly available for Hotmail (unless you know one I don’t).

I tried the identification validation page they have but that is not super useful as it also requires a security answer but doesn’t say for which question, and asks for an IP address from when the account was created over 5 years ago in a different house with a different ISP. We honestly don’t know what to do here, but the idea of someone controlling her account due to no fault of our own (other than choosing Hotmail, I guess) and getting no help from Microsoft other than access to a page where many people are complaining about the same thing and being asked for information we know has been changed, really bugs us. So I guess I’m asking HELP! Is there an exec level CRS line? Does anyone over there no how we can get hold of a real live person so we can tell them that asking for security information that can, and has, been changed is pointless?

Richard says he and his wife have been using Gmail for more than a year, so they’re not completely e-paralyzed by the theft, but it would be great to get that Hotmail account back. Is there anything you can think of for Dave and his wife to try?

(Photo: dirtyblueshirt)

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  1. Gorphlog says:

    This is a catch 22 unfortunately. If she was able to call who is to say its actually her calling. They have these security measures in place to prevent people from posing as the person who opened the email account and sometimes they work against you as well. My advice would be to just forget about it, open a new email account and then mail your friends and tell them your new address

  2. Xerloq says:

    I think the only option is to try the forums: [windowslivehelp.com]

    Here’s what they say on the support page:

    We do not offer phone support for Windows Live Hotmail because it’s accessible worldwide and has millions of members who live outside the United States. To best serve the needs of all our members, like you, the Windows Live Hotmail support system is available to all members through forum only. Windows Live Hotmail Technical Support receives thousands of support questions each day, and we will not be able to accommodate all of it through phone.

  3. citking says:

    I’ve had friends with similar problems. Microsoft sees Hotmail as a free service and doesn’t really care much about individual issues like these. This is also why I was very hesitant for our students to be switched to Live.EDU hosted email systems at work. I was voted down in my objections and I hope it doesn’t kick them in the ass later when “the cloud” starts spewing out lightning and rain.

    I’m still afraid of could computing and this is one of the reasons why. Whereas Google is at least making an attempt to open up to the outside I don’t see similar companies like Microsoft or Yahoo doing the same thing.

    Granted, you can access your Yahoo email externally but it costs $$.

  4. dragonfire81 says:

    Simple solution: Use Gmail.

    My hotmail account is now my official junk mail account. I use it for website signups and such, but not regular correspondence with friends and family.

    • bornonbord says:

      @dragonfire81: That is a very, very interesting suggestion. Here’s a quote from the article right above ya.

      Richard says he and his wife have been using Gmail for more than a year, so they’re not completely e-paralyzed by the theft, but it would be great to get that Hotmail account back.

    • MikeB says:

      @dragonfire81: Actually, while google has recovery options it will still take time. I had an issue, on a large part my fault, where somehow my password got changed. I initially thought I had been hijacked but if I was they didn’t do anything. And as a result of not setting up a 2nd contact (the my fault part) I was unable to quickly get my account back. So, I had to wait for several days, 5 I think, before I was prompted with my super secret security question. And if I tried to login before the 5 days had elapsed, it would reset the timer.

      No free, large scale service will have excellent customer service, but in the case of Google, where they have so many things tied to your gmail account (google checkout) they need something better.

  5. TheOrtega says:

    This can happen with Gmail and many other email services too.

  6. xamarshahx says:

    same thing happened to me, think microsoft servers get hacked since i work in IT and I am careful about where I access my e-mails from. they used the access to get to my paypal and order skype credits which paypal luckily detected and stopped. i was able to get abck in since I had my gmail listed as a backup on the hotmail account, but everything was in chinese, some guess clicks got me back to english and i then had to update every password i had. fun times, lol.

  7. Shawna says:

    My account was hacked into a month ago – I filled out the forms, and they got back to me in a day and had me reset my password. When you get it back, make sure you change your security questions and make sure your location is correct on the account, since mine had been changed by the hackers. Also, be sure to check any account that may be linked to it – they had gotten into my facebook, ebay and attempted to get into my paypal account.

  8. Deezul_AwT says:

    It’s one reason I’m holding onto my mindspring.com and earthlink.net accounts. I can talk to real person. So either pay that, or buy your own domain and you can control the passwords yourself.

    You get what you pay for…

  9. custommadescare says:

    You know, I had a ton of problems with my Hotmail account and tried their email service to get my password reset.

    Failing that, I was able to email them and say that my account was hacked (which is what I think had happened). Once I explained the situation, they must have reprovisioned the account and I was able to get back in. It didn’t have any old email, but it’s a junk email box anyway.

    I want to say that I had to search to do a search to get to the spot that gave me troubleshooting tips for a hacked account tho.

  10. TechnoDestructo says:

    @themicah:

    And just to head off any complaints about spam filtering, it is possible to set up your outside email to forward all incoming messages to Gmail, which will then forward them back, using Gmail’s spam filter.

  11. AstraBabble says:

    I agree, you got hacked. It doesn’t matter how paranoid a surfer you are, and even if you know what you are doing, if you go to a legitimate site that is infected with some nasty keylogger, you are infected and stuff is going to get stolen. Or if you have a crappy password.

    And GMAIL is just as susceptible. They did a demo at the hacker convention in Vegas a couple years ago where they hacked audience members gmail accounts on the fly. If you want secure e-mail, you need to run your own mail server…and know something about security.

  12. aikoto says:

    I’ve used hotmail forever, but am looking to stop. My recommendation is if they ever do get access again, they should copy all the data and go to a new service. It seems like with every new update, the functionality gets worse and worse and worse.

  13. justjon says:

    @Wei: I understand that you’re frustrated by the lack of a phone support option. But you have to remember, this is a free service being provided by Microsoft. They are not by any means obligated to offer phone support which requires money and resources.

    Just FYI, none of the other free e-mail providers offer phone support either, Gmail included.

  14. Wei says:

    @BytheSea: This is the original OP.

    She hates social networking sites actually. She’s paranoid of something like this happening. It would be ironic if it weren’t so frustrating.

    The hotmail account is old (I mentioned int he email we are on gmail now) but she never canceled it and was uncomfortable with the idea of someone going through her old mail. Now that we have control again,it’s canceled.

  15. Hawkins says:

    @BustangBetty: All quite true.

    But my point is one of negotiating position. Threatening to stop paying Microsoft for Hotmail will have no effect.

    So, Wei, yes, you’re right, they should deliver what they promise. The question is: what can you do to make them deliver, when they don’t?

    Sometimes it’s best to have a paying relationship with a not-so-huge company, where they actually care whether or not you write them checks.

  16. Wei says:

    @Hawkins: You pay them with usage, same as any “free” service. They use your inbox for ad space, and you get an email address. I know that might not be much leverage, but they’re not providing free email out of altruistic motivation.