Like other huge corporations, Microsoft looks out for you as a user and your account. People with bad intentions might try to log into your account and use it without your permission.
When Microsoft detects a suspicious log-in attempt, it gets flagged. Microsoft automatically sends you an email about the login attempt, as well as an SMS alert.
This provides a second layer of protection. Even if they know the correct password to your account, they won't be able to take full control over it.
Reasons why you received an unusual sign in activity email
There are multiple reasons why Microsoft sends you emails about your sign-in activity.
Although these emails can be triggered by you, it’s always important to review them in case of a real threat.
Some of the most common triggers for an unusual sign in activity email are the following:
- Signing in from a new device that was never used to sign in to your account before.
- Signing in from a different location while away from home.
- Signing in from a foreign country.
- Signing in with an unknown IP address.
- Allowing an application to access your Microsoft account.
How Microsoft protects your account
Microsoft takes two security measures to protect your account from hackers, account thieves, online scammers, and people with other malicious intent.
When you try to access your account from an unusual location or device, a message will pop up about detecting suspicious sign-in activity.
This is Microsoft's way of preventing hackers and scammers from gaining full access to your account, even if they know the correct password.
You will be asked to enter a security code. You can choose the code to be sent to an alternate contact method added to your account. For example, you can use an added secondary email address or a phone number.
Every time suspicious logins are detected, you will receive notifications on all of your alternate contact methods. This means that Microsoft is alerting you via emails and text messages.
Always make sure that you check the sender when you receive emails from Microsoft about suspicious login attempts. Online scammers use a technique called ‘phishing’ to gain access to your Microsoft account by sending you fake emails.
The only real Microsoft account team email where Microsoft will contact you is firstname.lastname@example.org.
What to do if you're signing in to your Microsoft Account from a new device or location
To effectively block all attacks, Microsoft might flag harmless attempts to log in; even those made by you.
Your sign-in attempts are highly likely to be blocked if you're using a new device or if you're logging in from a different location.
This happens to keep your account safe even if someone else has your correct login details. While they can log into your account, they can't proceed unless they have access to your alternate contact methods as well.
How to sign in to your Microsoft account from a new device or location
Confirm your identity with a security code
If you're attempting to log in but got blocked, unlock your account by choosing where you want to receive a security code. This can either be a secondary email address or a phone number previously added to your account.
Gain Access to A trusted device
If you can’t obtain a security code, you need to get access to a trusted device. A trusted device is a phone, tablet, computer, or laptop which you frequently use to log into your account with. Trusted devices need to be added manually via the Security settings page.
Use one of your trusted devices to access your account. If you’re traveling and left a trusted device at home, try to contact someone you trust who could access it. They can check the security code and forward it to you, which you can use to access your account.
If you don't know why you got a suspicious login message
Receiving an alert
When you can’t recall doing anything different when logging into your account recently, you must secure your account immediately.
Follow these steps to check the security of your account:
- Navigate to the Security basics page.
2. Click on the Review activity button.
3. You will be asked to sign in to your Microsoft account.
Is your password not working? Check the next section of this article to find out what might have happened.
4. You will need to verify your identity with a security code. Choose the way you want to receive the code. This can either be an email or a text message.
5. Check your email inbox or your text messages for the code. Make sure that the sender is legit. Only click on links sent by the Microsoft account team, whose email address is email@example.com.
6. Enter the security code to finish verifying your identity.
7. Look at the list of recent sign-ins to your account. You can see the time the login happened, as well as the IP address, web browser, device type, and approximate location.
8. If you see anything that seems suspicious, you can flag it by opening it and clicking on the Secure your account link.
Securing your Account
Once you identify a suspicious login not made by you, the first thing you should do is increase the security of your account. The best way to do this is by changing your password and making it harder to guess or steal.
To change your Microsoft account password, follow these steps:
- Navigate to the Security basics page.
2. Click on Change password.
3. Enter your current password, then create a new one. Strong passwords are at least 12 characters long and include a mix of lowercase letters, Capital letters, numbers, and symbols.
Make sure to create a new password that you have never used before on any of your online accounts.
4. You have the option to get automatic password change prompts every 72 days from Microsoft. This ensures that your password is always fresh and can’t be guessed easily.
Can't Access your Account?
If the password you’re trying to log in with doesn’t work, there’s a chance that someone changed it. Follow these steps to gain access back to your account:
- Reset your password by following the steps listed on the When you can't sign in to your Microsoft account page.
- If you can’t reset your password, try signing in again and:
- Click on Forgot my password.
- Select I think someone else is using my Microsoft account.
- Follow the on-screen instructions to recover your account.
We hope you were able to discover why you’re receiving emails and text messages about unusual sign-in attempts, and how to get past them.
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