Helping people with computers... one answer at a time.
I received a message while logging on that my account had been closed or access denied due to a violation of the terms and use agreement. I have no idea why this would have occurred. I do not send out mass e-mails creating a spam issue and I do not send pornographic e-mails. I have no idea if someone else could have hacked into my e-mail and done so, but feel that someone should have asked me for some sort of response before they just close my account. I have very important saved files and all of my contact information is in there and I can't access it. I have sent 2 e-mails to the address I was provided by the on-line support team, one Monday and one Tuesday and have yet to receive an answer. I even told them if they need me to change the address and they can just transfer my files and contacts over I would do that, but I have heard nothing.
I'm actually hearing about this frequently, and what I'm hearing is not good.
As you can imagine, there's a lot of frustration around this issue. I can understand why Hotmail would "close first, ask questions later", but if that's the approach then I also understand why their lack of follow up response would be so very frustrating.
Let me explain what I think is going on.
I need to be clear about something before we dive in: *I* cannot get your account back. I don't have any special magic. The steps to getting your account back are yours to take, and outlined below. Comments and requests for me to somehow get your account back will be deleted. I apologize for being that blunt about it, but experience shows it's exactly the kind of feedback that these types of articles generate.
However, that's not the only cause.
Unwanted e-mail or "spam"
Abusive or harassing e-mail
Phishing or account fraud
Of course you've not done any of that. Right? RIGHT? Because if you have, then you can stop reading now, and consider the account lost. You violated the rules, and properly lost your account because of it.
Here's where things get frustrating: You want to know what you did wrong, and they won't tell you.
There's a reason for that.
In fact, you'll never find a list of specifically detailed rules. Why? Because by making such a list public the "bad guys" would then have a rule book they could follow to be as bad as possible, without breaking the rules. They would push those publicly published rules to the limit - which in turn would render those rules absolutely useless to legitimate users.
The result is that highly likely they'll never tell you what "rule" you violated, because doing so would make that rule public.
It gets worse.
What does "harassing e-mail" mean? Does it mean a friend or an enemy could "report" you to Windows Live Hotmail as having harassed them, and would that be enough to get your account closed? One would hope it's not that simple, but then again, if you send something that could be considered harassment, perhaps it should be. The fact is we just don't know, and it's likely we'll never know, for exactly the same reasons: Hotmail doesn't want to give potential abusers the rule book.
What to do?
This post in the Windows Live Support Forum details the steps to be taken. They boil down to:
Follow the instructions on the page that notifies you your account has been closed.
Email email@example.com - from another email account obviously - detailing the issue.
You can certainly post to the Windows Live Support Forums yourself, but based on what I see there, you'll simply be instructed to follow one or the other of the instructions above.
Unfortunately, the success rate on getting satisfaction via this route seems mixed. They indicate that you should get a response in 24 hours, but many people get no response at all. I also can't say whether the responses that do happen are helpful. I know that there are people who've successfully regained their account, but I also know that there are many who have not.
I know of no other courses of action. None. Email firstname.lastname@example.org and hope for the best. Nothing else.
Personally, I think it's highly unlikely that you'll actually regain access to your account.
If this happens to you, the most important thing you can do is learn from the experience.
Understand and follow the terms that govern your use of any service you happen to use. Hotmail - and any online service you use - has every right to terminate your account for anything that constitutes a violation of those terms. And they're not required to help you recover.
Never, ever rely on a free email service being there when you need it. That means never, ever use a free email service as the only place you keep important things. 99.9% of the time there's absolutely no problem, but still I hear a constant stream of horrific stories from people who've lost incredibly important documents and photos and more when they've lost access - permanently - to their free email accounts.
Backup. This is really the previous point restated - free email accounts like Windows Live Hotmail can be great solutions as long as you backup. That means downloading your email, or auto-forwarding it to a different service, or just about anything that will somehow duplicate everything in the account somewhere else. If you have a backup then losing your account isn't nearly the disaster that so many seem to experience.
Finally, even if you choose to disregard my recommendations, consider your experience, and vote with your feet: if Windows Live Hotmail's service doesn't meet your needs, then go somewhere else. There are many, many alternatives.
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