Microsoft account security info: FAQ

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Why do I need to add security info?

To help protect your personal data, we're asking everyone with a Microsoft account to make sure the security info associated with their account is correct and up-to-date. When your security info (like an alternate email address or phone number) is current, we can use it to verify your identity if there's ever a problem. For example, if you forget your password, or if someone else tries to take over your account, Microsoft uses your security info to help you get back into your account.

Watch a video about why security info is important and how to add it to your Microsoft account. (To view captions in your language, tap or click the Closed captioning button Closed Captioning button.)

Important

  • When you see a message asking you to update or verify your security info, you have seven days before this is required. You can postpone verification for a day, and you won't be prompted again for 24 hours. However, after seven days, Microsoft will lock your account to help protect it; you won't be able to sign in again until you've verified up-to-date security info.

Do I have to verify my security info?

Yes. Verifying your security info isn't optional—we need to do this to help keep your Microsoft account more secure.

How does Microsoft use my security info?

Your security info is only used to help protect your account. For example, if you access your account and start making changes, we want to make sure it’s you who's doing so. We’ll send a one-time security code to the phone number or email address you’ve provided. When you enter the code we sent you, we’ll know it’s really you.

For this reason, it's important that you use a real phone number and email address for your alternate contact info. We'll never use this info to spam you or for any marketing purposes—it's only to verify your identity if there's ever a problem with your account.

Do I need to verify my security info every time I sign in?

No. When you receive and enter your verification code, we'll know that your alternate contact info is current, and you can sign in to your account as usual.

Occasionally, we might ask you to verify your security info again—for example, if you haven’t signed in for a long while. This is just our way to double-check whether your info is current. It won’t happen every time.

How do I add security info to my account?

To add security info to your account, follow these steps:

  1. Sign in to your Microsoft account.

  2. Under Password and security info, tap or click Edit security info.

    If you're prompted to enter a security code, check your alternate email or phone for the code from the Microsoft account team.

To add a phone number to your account

We can send a security code to your phone by text, or in an automated voice message. You can have one or more phone numbers associated with your account.

  1. On the Security info page, under Phone number, tap or click Add.

  2. Select your country code.

  3. Enter your phone number.

  4. Choose how you want to verify that phone number, either through an automated voice call or a text message, and then tap or click Next.

  5. Check your phone for the verification code, enter it, and then tap or click Next.

    The phone number you added appears in your account security info.

To add an alternate email address to your account

We can send a security code to your alternate email address. You can have one or more alternate email addresses associated with your account.

  1. On the Security info page, under Alternate email address, tap or click Add.

  2. Enter the email address, and then tap or click Next.

  3. Check your alternate email for the verification code, enter it, and then tap or click Next.

    The email address you added appears in your account security info.

Is a verification code the same thing as a password?

No. A verification code doesn't replace your password. Don't enter a verification code in the Password box.

I can't receive my verification code via text message. What do I do?

If you're having problems receiving your verification code via text message, try the option to receive an automated phone call instead.

My alternate email address is a Hotmail, Live, or Outlook.com account. Why doesn't the verification code work?

You’re trying to verify one Microsoft account with a code from another Microsoft account. But when you sign in to the second account (to get the code sent to that address), most browsers automatically sign you out of the first account (the one that's actually requesting the code).

If you're using Internet Explorer, you can sign in to the second account using an InPrivate Browsing session. This lets you get the code without having to sign out of the account that's asking for it.

  1. When you're prompted to enter the verification code sent to your alternate email address, don't close Internet Explorer.

  2. Press Ctrl+Shift+P to open a new Internet Explorer window and turn on InPrivate Browsing.

  3. In the new window, sign in to your alternate email account and look for the message from the Microsoft account team.

    Copy or write down the verification code from the message.

  4. Return to the Internet Explorer window that prompted you for the code. Enter the verification code and follow the instructions.

If you're using different browser software, check the manufacturer's help for info about "private browsing."

I no longer have the phone number or email address I used for my security info. What can I do?

You can delete your out-of-date security info and replace it with current info. There's a 30-day waiting period before the old info is permanently deleted—in case you find your lost phone, for example. For details, see How do I replace all my security info?

What's a Microsoft account recovery code?

Your recovery code helps you get back into your Microsoft account even if something goes wrong—for example, if a hacker breaks into your account and starts making changes, or if you lose the phone on which you normally receive validation codes to sign in.

But a recovery code is only helpful if you've printed it or written it down somewhere safe, separate from your PC or device, before there's a problem. To create and print your recovery code, follow these steps:

  1. Sign in to your Microsoft account.

  2. Under Recovery Code, tap or click Set up.

    If you've created a recovery code before, your screen will say Replace instead. Tap or click Replace.

  3. Tap or click Print.

What else can I do to help protect my Microsoft account?

You can set up two-step verification to keep your account more secure. Two-step verification will always prompt you for a security code in addition to your password. If you decide to turn on two-step verification, it's especially important that your alternate contact info is valid, because you'll need it to get your security codes. For more info, see Two-step verification: FAQ.

Tip

  • If you change your account info frequently, you might want to set up a trusted device (like the PC you sign in to most frequently), so that you don't need to enter a security code every time you make a change. For more info, see Trusted devices: FAQ