Heads up on Skype/Microsoft problem (long)

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Oct 28, 2017
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I've been reading the forums for quite a while, and just created an account to share my harrowing experience with a hacked Skype account. (Okay, harrowing might be overstating it, but it's certainly been frustrating!)

About two weeks before I was set to go out of the country (which is really the only time I use Skype), I got an email from Microsoft thanking me for adding an email address and changing my password on Skype. When I tried to log in and fix the problem, I couldn't - and the password reset process sent the reset email to the hacker's address.

I connected with Skype customer service chat, was sent a link to attempt an account recovery, and was asked to send screenshots of the step-by-step process, so they could verify my account. Two attempts at account recovery resulted in emails that said I was successful, but upon clicking the link, the system said it did not recognize my username or email address as valid Skype accounts.

I sent the screenshots to customer service, and was told there were no attachments. For the next week, I went back and forth with them, being told that they weren't getting the attachments. I cc'd my husband at his office email to ensure the attachments were going out, and he received them, but my suggestions that maybe their email system was stripping the attachments were dismissed.

We finally figured out a way to get the screenshots to customer service, and within 24 hours, my issue was bumped up to the next level of support (9 days after my initial contact, 6 days before I was scheduled to go out of the country). After that, I heard nothing - so the day before my trip, I sent an email to customer service, and cc'd the Microsoft customer service execs listed on Elliott.org. Within 2 hours, I had an email from Microsoft Global Escalation Services. She asked me to go through the account recovery process. Again. I was in the midst of packing and getting my family ready to go on our trip, so I responded and by saying I didn't have time, and requesting that she just delete the account so I could move on.

The next day, as I boarded my flight, I received an email saying they couldn't even delete the account without verifying it was mine. When I got to my destination, I filled out the lengthy questionnaire (which included requests for Skype contact names, numbers called, etc) and returned it. Three days later, I received this email:

"This is Sabre again with Microsoft Customer Support & Services. I understand that a situation like this one can be difficult, and I appreciate your patience while I performed an investigation of your account. I am contacting you today to provide the results of my investigation.

The account and billing activity associated with your Skype Account was thoroughly reviewed and I can confirm there was unauthorized access to your Skype account. Due to the nature of the compromise, I had to reach out to an internal team to assist with re-securing the account.

Unfortunately, when a Skype account has been converged with a Microsoft Account, we are unable to assist with an account recovery. The convergence takes account recovery completely out of control of customer service. We are unable to remove the unwanted Microsoft Account or make any changes to the security information on the account due to security protocols set up on the account.

The only option we have is to permanently suspend this account to prevent any further use of the account. I have successfully suspended this account of further use.

I understand the frustration that can be involved with this specific issue. I imagine that my answer was not what you might have been hoping for, and I sincerely empathize with you. However, as no further resolution can be offered, I will move forward with closing this case and will no longer be responding to any further emails in this thread. Please know that you can always rely on our customer service forums for future issues by visiting https://support.microsoft.com. We sincerely apologize for any inconvenience that you have experienced, and I appreciate your understanding and patience while this problem was investigated."

Basically, it's my account and it was hacked, but they can't give it back to me. My systems engineer husband says their reasons are probably not valid technically, but may be the result of internal security protocols. I'm too tired of all this to pursue further explanation, plus as the email above says, she's not going to respond to any further emails. They did give me a voucher to reinstate the $7 in credit I had on the account, if I choose to open another Skype account. Not sure I'm going to do that.

tl;dr Change your Skype password and make sure it's a hard one to crack, because if you get hacked, you're probably not going to get the account back.
 

jsn55

Verified Member
Dec 26, 2014
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San Francisco
Ugh, what a frustrating mess. I stay away from stuff like Skype for exactly the reasons you described. I don't have the emotional fortitude to deal with a problem, only to find out that you CAN'T deal with the problem.

However, my sister uses Facetime to talk with her daughters and hasn't had any issues. You might want to try that.
 
Feb 9, 2016
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It's a mess which is why Microsoft has decided to close the account permanently, instead of give it back to you. If they give it back to you there is a good chance that this will happen again, and they just don't want to deal with it.

I agree with @jsn55 use a different mechanism to chat with people. Facebook Messenger and calling Service, will work with Hotel WiFi.
 
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Oct 22, 2016
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Depending upon your communication needs(video?) while out of the U.S., a more reliable voice mode than Skype is magic jack (VOIP). I use MJ as my home landline phone. I pay $35 per year including tax and am able to call anywhere in the US or Canada 24/7. The voice quality is every bit as good as a regular landline. People can call me any where in the world on my home landline number at no cost to them or me. The MJ app for phones or tablets works great.
 
Jan 25, 2016
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Ultimately, as the OP indicated at the end of her tale of woe, this is about passwords and security. It doesn't matter one whit whether you use Skype, FaceTime, Facebook Messenger, etc. If you aren't using a complex, secure password (either 14-18 completely random alphanumeric characters with punctuation or a multi-word phrase) you are going to be hacked and you are going to suffer as the OP did. This isn't an "if" situation, but a "when" situation ... kind of like data loss if you don't back up. If you can't use complex phrases that are easier to remember, invest in a password manager and start using complex passwords.
 
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jsn55

Verified Member
Dec 26, 2014
9,886
10,694
113
San Francisco
Ultimately, as the OP indicated at the end of her tale of woe, this is about passwords and security. It doesn't matter one whit whether you use Skype, FaceTime, Facebook Messenger, etc. If you aren't using a complex, secure password (either 14-18 completely random alphanumeric characters with punctuation or a multi-word phrase) you are going to be hacked and you are going to suffer as the OP did. This isn't an "if" situation, but a "when" situation ... kind of like data loss if you don't back up. If you can't use complex phrases that are easier to remember, invest in a password manager and start using complex passwords.
OK, Bill, I'm sold on your instructions. NOBODY wants to do this, but EVERYBODY needs to. Been really lucky so far (I mean, I use DECENT passwords) but just had my first CC fraud ever.

A new CC account, during the first 30 days someone used it to charge gas/repairs at stations all over Los Angeles. I figured they were buying gas for all their friends, every day. Then I realized that you use a card to operate the gas pumps, how could they do this if they don't have the card ... they must pluck the a/c number out of cyberspace and make up a real card, huh?

So I'm making a pledge to clean up my internet access act before 12/31. Thank you for this excellent reminder.
 
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Jan 25, 2016
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OK, Bill, I'm sold on your instructions. NOBODY wants to do this, but EVERYBODY needs to. Been really lucky so far (I mean, I use DECENT passwords) but just had my first CC fraud ever.

A new CC account, during the first 30 days someone used it to charge gas/repairs at stations all over Los Angeles. I figured they were buying gas for all their friends, every day. Then I realized that you use a card to operate the gas pumps, how could they do this if they don't have the card ... they must pluck the a/c number out of cyberspace and make up a real card, huh?

So I'm making a pledge to clean up my internet access act before 12/31. Thank you for this excellent reminder.
Thanks ... I know that came off as kind of preachy but two of the worst messages I have to deliver to my clients are "Your password wasn't sufficiently strong and your iCloud/Microsoft/whatever account has been compromised" or "Your hard drive has failed, Drive Savers can't recover anything, and all the pictures of your deceased [relative], newborn [child], whatever are irretrievably lost. Even after over 20 years, it's still enough to bring a lump to my throat.
 
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Oct 28, 2017
4
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Seattle
You're absolutely right, Bill - my passwords were always rated as "strong," but they were based on non-random characters. Since this issue, I have moved to using a password keeper and whenever I log into something, I'm changing the password using randomly generated passwords.

In an aside, Skype has been emailing me daily since November 1st, telling me that my recurring payment has failed and my subscription is going to expire...on the account that they have supposedly suspended. Planning to dig into that a little deeper when I get back to the States next week.
 

jsn55

Verified Member
Dec 26, 2014
9,886
10,694
113
San Francisco
You're absolutely right, Bill - my passwords were always rated as "strong," but they were based on non-random characters. Since this issue, I have moved to using a password keeper and whenever I log into something, I'm changing the password using randomly generated passwords.

In an aside, Skype has been emailing me daily since November 1st, telling me that my recurring payment has failed and my subscription is going to expire...on the account that they have supposedly suspended. Planning to dig into that a little deeper when I get back to the States next week.
I'm not sure there is any activity in existence that I loathe more than dealing with a technology company. It's beyond painful to try to get a simple problem solved ... like not paying your bill for a service the company has suspended. Ugh.
 

bgh

Jul 4, 2016
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Another hint to bear in mind is to not use the same password for multiple accounts. I know it can be a hassle, but striving to use a different password (and, where possible) a different userid for each site is admirable.

When you use a single password, and someone hacks that password, they are then able to access all of your accounts (provided they know the user name - and, since a lot of sites use your email address as the user name, the hacker has a good idea of where to start).
 
Jun 27, 2017
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I guess I am confused as to why you are even using Skype. There are several free applications that you can use to accomplish the same thing. Prominently WhatsApp.
 
Jul 27, 2016
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A new CC account, during the first 30 days someone used it to charge gas/repairs at stations all over Los Angeles. I figured they were buying gas for all their friends, every day. Then I realized that you use a card to operate the gas pumps, how could they do this if they don't have the card ... they must pluck the a/c number out of cyberspace and make up a real card, huh?
Could have also been fraud if they had your actual card. Waiters, for example. Or skimmers installed on gas pumps or other places you swipe your card.
 
Oct 28, 2017
4
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1
Seattle
I guess I am confused as to why you are even using Skype. There are several free applications that you can use to accomplish the same thing. Prominently WhatsApp.
I started using Skype in grad school, because it was the app my professors preferred and I needed to keep in touch when I was out of the country doing research.

Clearly, I should have switched to something else before I was forced to!