Google won't give back my eponymous Gmail address. Is there a way?
December 5, 2019 6:09 PM   Subscribe

Apparently I can't recall the password to my Firstname​Middleinitial​Lastname​ account, which I've had for a decade or more. I have forgotten it before, and they've allowed me to recover it. But this time - same laptop, same internet service, same router - they don't. It's not crucial to have, but, what are my options?

They go through the Q&As, they send me the confirmation codes and I enter them, they ask for 1 piece of info that I didn't think would ever be necessary & that they've never asked for before, and then they just say they can't verify that it's me.

Mainly I want to be sure that no one else has commandeered the account, and to be notified so I can raise a ruckus if someone else does try. Is there a way for me either to know if that happens, or else to ask Google please to take its sweet time as needed, to decide that I"m me & give it back? It's not essential to have, but I don't like thinking that it's out there & not under my control.
posted by anonymous to Computers & Internet (5 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
I don't believe it will be put back into the availability pool, so without your password no one can access it. Unless it's been hacked, it'll just sit there. If it has been hacked, you can't get it back, I don't think. If you're getting confirmation codes, I don't think it's been hacked unless it's a really dumb hacker who hasn't changed that stuff.

I've found that in the last month Google has changed some of their practices and things are harder to recover -- to a stupid degree.

I have one address that I tried to get into after forgetting the password and it asked me if there was another address associated with it. There was, and I entered it. Google told me that the address was wrong but then I got an email at that address telling me someone was trying to access the account. So... it seems like their recovery process is a bit fucked these days.
posted by dobbs at 8:03 PM on December 5, 2019

Have you thought hard about whether you might have an old computer or phone that has the password saved? Even just a hard drive from an old computer may be enough (with some trouble).
posted by fritley at 8:51 PM on December 5, 2019 [2 favorites]

I think you're boned. You're not a customer to Google, you're livestock; they don't care at all about their business relationship with you.

The only way I can think of to turn this situation to your advantage is to use it as motivation to embrace the disciplined use of decent password management software.

As well as making the forgetting of further passwords essentially impossible, using a browser-independent password manager will ease the process of changing the passwords you use with all your other online services to something long, machine-generated and unique to the service. And in the course of working through those, you should also change the recovery email address associated with each service to be that of a new account that you set up for account recovery purposes exclusively, only ever log into via a private web browsing window, and never hook up to any email client in regular use. You don't want recovery confirmation numbers and whatnot showing up in your normal email inbox where phishers would normally be looking for them.

Because if somebody has indeed stolen your existing Gmail account and locked you out of it, you can be pretty sure their next step is going to involve trying to leverage it to work their way into all your other services via their lost-password processes.
posted by flabdablet at 10:51 PM on December 5, 2019 [1 favorite]

If you happen to know a Google employee socially, ask them if they can help you out.
posted by potrzebie at 12:00 AM on December 6, 2019 [1 favorite]

Memail me. I may be able to help you through a connection at google.
posted by lasagnaboy at 4:57 AM on December 6, 2019

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