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Update Account Recovery Info

Facebook, Gmail, and iCloud are among the many online services that either require or strongly encourage you to have an alternate email address or cell phone number that enables you to recover your account and all the data you have in it. It’s important to keep this contact info up to date either to access your data and/or to make sure nobody else is using an old email address or phone number to get your data.

Problems almost always occur when your recovery is tied to an old email address that you’ve given up but never deleted from your records. It could be an address tied to an old email carrier, such as your landline telephone provider or cable provider, or an old business email address. When the data storage servers try to send you a code to recover your info, you’ll never be able to get it and respond to it. That will immediately break the connection, and you’ll be locked out.

If you’ve tied your recovery to a cell phone number, the recovery process can involve sending you an access code via text message. But just as with an email address, if the recovery database doesn’t have your current cell phone number, you’ll never get the code.

If access to your data is your immediate problem, you’ll need to jump through hoops to get access, but no matter how many ways you try, you may never get the access. Unfortunately in our online world, fewer and fewer companies have telephone numbers to talk to a live person. And even if they do, good luck in actually talking to a real human.

The problem can be even worse if the account owner is no longer around. We’ve discussed before about how important it is for a family member, close friend, or some other representative to have your account information so that they can close out your affairs and prevent your name from being used fraudulently.

A related problem is the hacking of Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, and other social media accounts. Anyone who can masquerade as the account holder can turn that access into an abundant harvest of other people’s information – and their contacts’ information – to eventually get into somebody’s system and start trouble. A social media hacker can also change your recovery information and lock you out of your accounts.

Facebook is probably the worst for problems, and our carelessness is as much to blame as anything. How many times do you get friend requests from someone who’s already your friend? Don’t assume that they may have deleted their account and are re-establishing a new one. Don’t confirm (accept) the request. Instead, scan your list of friends (click on your name and then scroll down to Friends and then click See All Friends. If their name appears in the list, they’re already a friend.

We recommend that you add a new task to your end-of-the-year clean-up routine. Visit all your websites and verify or update all your contact and account recovery information. It would also be a good time to add two-factor authentication as well.

If you have any questions or run into trouble with any of your accounts, call us – 973-433-6676 – or email us. We might not be able to resolve your problems directly, but we may be able to offer advice or suggestions based on what we’ve seen throughout our client base.

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