Most online accounts give you the option to set up 2fa for an extra layer of security when signing in. Using your phone number as your 2fa verification is great – you get a text or phone call to verify it’s you, and boom! You are inside. except now you’ve lost your phone and can’t access any of your accounts. don’t panic yet; you still have a few options, which we discuss below, along with some helpful preventative measures.
backup codes: the easy way to recover your account
When you set up 2fa most sites, including google, give you a set of unique recovery codes, which are made up of random numbers and sometimes letters. each backup code can be used once to log in to your account.
Reading: Gmail 2 step verification lost phone
tip: save your backup codes offline
do not store your recovery codes in the cloud, such as in your emails or notes. Your email account and devices can be hacked, lost, or stolen, and if you’re locked out of your email account, you’ll lose access to your codes. Instead, use an encrypted USB stick, external drive, or password manager to store them securely. if you want to be more creative, you can store them on an old phone, kindle or ipad that has been factory reset and set to offline mode for maximum security.
transfer your old phone number to a new phone
If you didn’t save your backup codes and lost the phone you use for two-factor authentication, try calling your phone network to transfer your old number to a new phone. You’ll need a new sim card for that, and it might take a day or two to activate. but once your old number works again, you can receive 2fa verification codes as usual.
tip: wipe your old phone remotely
If you’ve lost your phone, you should be able to remotely wipe it if you’ve already enabled the feature in settings. Use Apple’s Find My Phone or Google’s Find My Device to see your location and delete your content. the last thing you need is someone accessing your 2fa from your old phone and hacking into all your accounts.
have your verification code sent to your alternate phone
When you set up 2-Step Verification, you may have been given the option to choose an alternate phone in case you lose access to your primary number. if you’ve done this on google, for example, select “try another way to sign in” and have your verification code sent to your alternate phone.
tip: use a trusted family member or friend as a backup
You can add your number as a reliable backup source in case you lose access to your phone. Since a phone number is only part of the verification process for most accounts, it’s a good idea to use this method for your Apple ID, for example. Apple’s alternative recovery process is intentionally time consuming to deter criminals. That’s why having a trusted friend receive your codes can be such a relief during emergencies.
set up 2fa on two different devices
Having a secondary device with your 2fa is a great backup if you ever lose your primary phone. There are plenty of authenticator apps out there to help you with 2FA, like authy and google authenticator. the latter allows you to scan a unique qr code to verify that it is you. take a picture of the qr code on a secondary device or better yet print it and keep it in a secret place to use it in extreme situations.
contact customer service
Losing access to your 2fa isn’t the end of the world, which is why customer service departments are there to help. While proving your identity and going through the recovery processes are difficult and time consuming, your service may offer some faster verification methods. take your bank, for example. You may be asked to confirm your card details, unique security numbers, or address to help you get back into your account. Either way, forgetting passwords and losing devices is common, so it’s always worth calling before giving up.
use nordpass with biometric authentication
Two-factor authentication is a good security measure, but it has its drawbacks. so it might be time to rethink your account security and opt for biometrics. biometric authentication uses facial, voice, or fingerprint recognition to help you access your accounts. The NordPass app can be configured with your Face ID or Fingerprint for quick access to your encrypted password vault. You’re no longer required to keep physical copies of passwords – you can access your data on NordPass from your phone or tablet, even when you’re offline.
Even if you use 2fa, you still need a secure way to store your passwords and codes, which is what nordpass is expertly designed to help you with.