Keeping Your Contact Info Up to Date

by Keith Gatling | 14 months ago

lost in space3Getting a new cell phone with a new number? Changing your cell phone number? Changing your email address? Be sure to let all the online services you subscribe to know so they can find you!

What am I talking about? Email services like Gmail, Outlook, and Yahoo use your cell phone number as a way of verifying your identity if you lose your password. If you need to do a password reset, they’ll send a text message with a verification code to you. Without this verification code, you could be locked out of your account permanently, since many of these services no longer provide human help with this.

Keeping them up to date on your email address changes is a good idea, too. I know, you’re wondering why you should have to let your email service provider know when you’ve changed your email address, but let’s talk about Facebook. If you don’t give them an email address to verify you with when you forget your password, you’re toast. And about those email providers you think it’s silly to give your email address to, since they are your email address … I’d like you to think again. They’re asking for another email address they can try to verify you through … a “rescue” email address. This can be another email address you have through another service or the email address of a family member, significant other, or trusted friend.

You think I’m making this stuff up? I had a person come into the library who couldn’t get into her Facebook account because she’d forgotten the password. No problem … It would send a reset message to her Gmail account. However, she’d also forgotten the password to her Gmail account. No problem there either … they’d send her a verification code in a text message. But … she’d gotten a new cell phone a few months earlier, with a brand new number (she didn’t know that you can ask to keep the same number when you switch phones), and never updated it with Gmail.

The result? She was permanently locked out of both her Facebook and Gmail accounts.

And if you’re an iPhone, iPad, Mac, or Apple Watch user, let’s not forget about your AppleID. Chances are your AppleID is at an icloud.com address, which means that you can’t change it. However… you can change the email address it uses to contact you.

Also, if you used your own previous, non-Apple, email address as your AppleID, you can change that to a new address. In fact, it’s recommended that you do that before you ditch the old service. After all, if there’s no one at the old address to verify that the change is legit, the change won’t go through.

Now let’s talk about cell phones again. There are some of you out there who very stubbornly resist getting one, saying, “Cell phone? I don’t need no stinking cell phone!” But I’m telling you that with a cell phone, and the number properly provided to all of your Internet services, I can solve most password issues in 10 minutes. Without one, you might be locked out forever.

So if you don’t have a cell phone (and even a little flip phone will do), I beg you to get one, and get it soon.

Keith Gatling also is known as the LPL's tech expert Mr. G. You can find his Tech Tips here.