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How to recover a Google account if lost or hacked
Almost all of us have Google accounts jam-packed with personal data, whether our emails, contacts, appointments, or text messages. So when we lose access to our Google account, it has the potential to be an earth-shuddering disaster in the making. But there’s no need to have a nervous breakdown just yet, though. You can take various recovery steps to recover a Google account and regain control of your data to stay secure online.
Recovering a Google account depends on how you lost it in the first place. If you forgot your password, that's easy to fix. If you were hacked, things just got a lot more complicated, but not impossible. Everything revolves around the Google account recovery link.
JUMP TO KEY SECTIONS
- How to recover a deleted Google account
- How to recover a Google account if your account was hacked
- How to recover a Google account if you forgot your password
- How to recover a Google account if you forgot your email address
- Tips for completing account recovery steps
- How to contact Google to help with Google account recovery
How to recover a deleted Google account
Whether or not you can recover a deleted Google account depends on how long ago it was deleted. Basically, the sooner, the better. Google doesn’t say what the cutoff point is, but some non-Google sites suggest it could be 60 to 90 days.
The first recovery step is simply to log in and see if it lets you into your account. You’ll obviously need to enter your username and password and perhaps answer a recovery question or two. You may get lucky.
If the account was deleted too long ago, and you cannot log in the usual way, the Google account recovery link is what you’ll need. You’ll be asked for the account name and the last password you remember for the account. Google will then let you know if the account can be restored.
But if it’s been too long since the account was deleted, you may be totally out of luck. The only option then is to cut your losses and start a new Google account.
How to recover a Google account if your account was hacked
If your Google account was hacked, then time is of the essence. The faster you react, the better.
If someone logs into your account from an unrecognized device or unrecognized IP address, Google immediately flags it and sends you an email to let you know. If you don’t recognize the login, you need to go to the security section of your Google account and change the password immediately.
But if you wait too long, and the hacker has the chance to change the password, then it’s back to the account recovery link. You’ll be asked the last password you remember and your security questions. If you have a backup email address or phone number in the account, a verification code will be sent there for you to enter. This is why it’s absolutely essential you add these details in advance to “hack-proof” your account in the future.
This is, of course, assuming the hacker hasn’t managed to change your backup options and personal details yet. If they have, your chances of getting the Google account back just plummeted, and you may need to assume it’s lost. If that’s the case, revoke the account’s access to any other online services you granted it, as well as cancel your Google Pay credit card number.
How to recover a Google account if you forgot your password
This is probably one of the easiest ways to recover a Google account. It’s a simple case of clicking the Forgot password? link. However, if you have a Google Workspace account, you may have to contact your Workspace administrator, who will reset your password.
Assuming it’s a regular vanilla Google account, enter your email address on any Google login page (Gmail, YouTube, etc.) and click Next. This brings you to the password page, where you now need to click Forgot password?
If you have two-factor authentication enabled on the account, you’ll now have to enter the 2FA code or a backup code before proceeding. If you’re unable to do this, you’ve pretty much lost access to the account. There’s no way to disable two-factor authentication for security reasons. This is a good reason to keep those backup codes safe!
Assuming you’re now past the two-factor authentication stage (or you didn’t need it in the first place), you’ll be asked to enter the last password you remember using with the account. If you enter a password you used with the account in the not-so-distant past, Google will send an activation code to your backup email address in the account.
Enter the activation code, type in a new password, and you’re in.
If you can’t remember any passwords or receive an activation code, you will have to answer your recovery questions. If you can’t answer those, your recovery chances at this point will be pretty much zero.
How to recover a Google account if you forgot your email address
Setting up a Google account is so easy that we’re quite likely to have multiple accounts. So what if you want to recover one, but you don’t remember the exact username? Google makes that simple for you.
On the login page, where you would enter the account name, a link says Forgot email? Select that.
You’ll then be asked to enter :
- Your phone number or recovery email (this must match the one already registered to the Google account you’re trying to access).
- Then the full name on your account.
- Then the recovery code is sent to your phone number.
Assuming you’ve entered the correct information each time, Google will now provide you on the screen with a list of all the email addresses registered to you. Click on the one you want to log in with and enter your password.
Tips for completing account recovery steps
Google provides an excellent advice page on tips to improve your chances of recovering your account. It boils down to being thorough with your replies to questions, providing as much information as possible, and using a familiar device or IP address.
The less “suspicious” you look in Google’s eyes, the more chance there is of getting your account back.
How to contact Google to help with Google account recovery
In short, Google doesn’t provide any “real person” support for account recovery. They used to have a form you could fill in for their support team to look at, but now everything seems to be automated through the account recovery link. You may be very unhappy with that, but if you consider the sheer volume of recovery requests daily, you’ll quickly realize why Google needed to automate the process.
As we said initially, all roads lead to the account recovery page. If you go through that process and have a backup contact or recovery questions, your chances of recovery are very good.
No, Google doesn’t provide a customer support phone number for these types of problems.
Assuming you can access the account using one of the methods described above, Google has a Takeout feature where you can download your user data. If you can’t access the account, the data inside is lost.