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Recover or Reset Forgotten or Hacked User IDs and Passwords, part 2

Answers to security questions are used to validate your ID and password You’re probably familiar with the security questions that you normally select and answer when you first sign up on a new website or app. If you try to sign in from a different web browser or computer, those security questions are used to verify that you are the same person who registered and that you are trying to sign in again.

If possible, don’t select the question that asks for your mother’s maiden name because that information is easily accessible from genealogy sites. Also, don’t select the same questions on every site. It’s also OK to use fictitious answers to security questions , as long as you can remember the answer.

Set up two-factor authentication for extra protection to prevent hackers from using your passwords ATM machines use two-factor authentication (2FA) – the two factors are your ATM card and your PIN. Many websites allow 2FA with another factor besides your password. If you provide a phone number for the second factor, you will get a call or text with a code number to enter to confirm you have the phone in your possession.

If you’re accessing the web on a mobile device, the second factor can also be a biometric signature based on your fingerprint, voice print or facial recognition. 2FA was covered in detail in the Tech Tips column in the Jan. 2, 2019 issue of the Rossmoor News.

Recovering or resetting forgotten user IDs or passwords Sometimes you fail to log in to a website simply because you mis-typed either or both your user ID and password. If you make too many incorrect attempts to log in, some websites will lock you out to prevent robot programs from trying to gain entry. If you get locked out, you may have to wait a while before you can try again, or you may need to contact the site’s customer support.

If you are having problems with your password, look for an option that displays your password while you are typing it in, allowing you to catch any typos before you submit your entry. To reset your password, just click on the link “forgot password,” then re-enter your email address and they will send you a link to reset your password.

You may be asked to verify that it’s you making the reset request – this is where 2FA and the security questions you answered when registering on the website come into play. After you complete the 2FA instructions and/or answer the security questions, you can reset your password. Similarly, if you have forgotten your user ID, look for a link to have a temporary ID emailed to you.

Otherwise, contact customer support. Search the website for a “contact us,” “live chat” or “help” links. For example, in Gmail the “account recovery” procedure is found by searching inside “Help.” Larger retailers and financial institutions typically provide a phone number so you can speak to a live person. Otherwise, you may need to submit an email describing your problem or engage in a “live chat” discussion (essentially, a text message exchange) with support personnel.

Regardless of how you reach customer support, you will be questioned for security purposes, and possibly asked for some address or phone number information you used to originally register for the site.

If your email has been hacked and you need to recover your email and reset your email password How do you know your email has been hacked? Usually, somebody you know may receive an email that seems like it comes from you. That person will contact you and tell you something like “Hey, your account is sending out spam! You’ve probably been hacked.”

If you can still access your email, sign in and change your password. If you’ve been hacked, and you can’t access your email, you must contact your email provider’s customer support to get access to your email again.

Have a tech question or want to see an archive of previous Tech Tips columns? Go to the Computer Club website and click on the LINKS menu choice at the top-right of the page.

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