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tl;dr: Is it possible to regain access to my recently disabled account with my recovery email address only?

long version

problem

Once again Gmail locked me out from my account on the merit that they detected 'unusual activity'. Since I failed to get information last time on what this 'unusual' activity might exactly be in my case at hand, I'm reluctant to give my phone number again1 for no identifiable apparent reason (other than the speculative possibility that Google may want to be updated on my phone number by scaring me).

However there doesn't seem to be any option that actually works2. I describe what I've explored here. After some time, my personal opinion that this UI is a crafted dark pattern, and I don't know whether the recovery email way even works. Is it possible to reactivate with my recovery email address only?

attempted resolutions

The web page that requests for my number says, To immediately restore access to your account, which suggests that perhaps there is an other way to restore access to my account; however if there is, it is very-very far from obvious, as the page doesn't list any options that doesn't involve my phone:

google verify your account


The page leads to https://support.google.com/accounts/answer/181513?hl=en that links to the forgot password page, currently: https://www.google.com/accounts/ForgotPasswd?fpOnly=1

However if I follow the link they ask whether I've forgot my username, my password, or other. "Other" is what applies what leads me to this page:

account disabled


I have a recovery email address set and I can't understand why cannot I use it. On their help pages they insist that I will be able to recover my account with my recovery email address, for example here:


recovery email


The only way I managed to get to a place where I can even give my recovery email for recovery is if I tell the form that I don't remember my username. But even then, it simply doesn't work: I enter my recovery address and a captcha, but google keeps telling me that I "may have added this [...] when [I] signed up", guess this may have something to do with that my recovery address is also a gmail address (was not a very wise idea, it seems, eh?).


recovery2


At first I've thought that I mistyped the capcha, but after doing more than ten recognition cycle still didn't get through. I'm sure I got the captcha right more than once.

I didn't explore all the options though. For example the first recommendation is to reset my password from a device I recently used to sign in, with options 'continue' and 'cancel'. I didn't use a device other than this computer recently to sign in so I've clicked 'cancel', I wonder what they mean by 'device' and what would happen if I clicked 'continue'.

Well, I don't really want to reset my password anyway, I just want my account re-enabled. But if it takes to reset my password, I may do it. However, I can't see why should I add my phone number, when I have a recovery email set. The help clearly suggests that a recovery email provides me enough security to recover my account. But this doesn't seem to be the case. Also the page that requests my phone number says that it needs it in order to 'immediately' restore my account, suggesting that there are perhaps ways to 'not immediately but eventually' restore my account.

question

What to do to recover access to my account without providing my phone number? Is it even possible?


(1): I've already gave my phone address twice. You see, my phone number is not exactly a secret. On the other hand, I can't see why should I provide it when I also have a recovery email address set. I think Google demands too much and I don't like it because they don't play honest: the way they formulate their help text suggests that I can recover my account with a recovery address set.

(2): The non-phone options are already well hidden, although they're visible enough for plausible deniability for a claim such us 'they are not providing alternate options'.

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2 Answers 2

tl;dr: click continue at to reset my password from a device I recently used to sign in and answer the not-very-secure questions presented to you, they will send you a mail.

long version

After reading this answer by icantchooseoneRising:

icantchooseoneRising Nov 2 with there being around 450 million gmail users , there is no number to call if you use free gmail nor any direct email or other type of tech support - its simply not possible

You can only reset your password by one of these methods:

  1. Having email sent to a recovery email address that you have registered in your account

  2. Having a code sent to the mobile number you have registered in your account

  3. For some accounts, answering a security question.

  4. filling in the recovery form

for 1 2 3 click here

select I forgot my password

for 4

Start here - www.google.com/accounts/recovery

Choose "I forgot my password"

Enter the account name that you are trying to recover

Solve the Captcha if one is offered to you

Choose "Verify your Identity"

Complete and submit the form

for more info See the following article about how to recover a lost or compromised account: http://gmailaccountrecovery.blogspot.com/

I've decided to try and click continue on to reset my password from a device I recently used to sign in, well, I've used my computer...

to my surprise it asked me to enter the last password you remember

password help for

then it asked to Enter an email address where we can contact you - note that it didn't ask what is my 'recovery email address' (neither it should, based on my username they should know already), nor even my username...

enter email

After that it asked me again what was my last password, the date when the last tiem I could log in (today..), and the date when I registered my account (ages ago...).

I don't know what to think but it sent the recovery email to the address I've given.

I was able to recover my account.

On the first login, it tried to trick me again into giving my email address, but there was a "cancel" button...

Now I wonder if it didn't enter to this form the same address that is my recovery email address, would it still send the help email? Because then I think it is very insecure.

The reason why they don't allow me to log in with my password should be that someone else may be knowing my last password. So they can enter it too.

They ask for an other email address, not my username nor my recovery email address. If I could give any address here, then the remaining questions are the last time I could use my account, which is not very hard to guess if someone is an attacker; and when did I register. This one can be tricky, but really, there are not many combinations. With a little inspection, information and luck, one could make an educated guess.

So it seems what actually protects my account the strongest is my last password - the very thing that Google wants me to change. But until I change that, it seems that it may allow anyone with a random email address to take over my account, if [s]he can guess the time I've registered?!

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Probably not. Forget about gmail. Just switch to another provider. Even if gmail does restore your account, they will ask for a phone number later on. I have had google ask me to phone verify each time I sign on from a different ip. So I just stopped using google.

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protected by Community Apr 19 at 10:22

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