Imagine you use your phone number as a second factor to access your e-Mails (e.g. through SMS). What happens if I change phone numbers and then no longer have access to that second factor?

Can one still access the e-mail account?

  • 2
    We dont have a special backdoor to retrieve emails.The answer to your question is dependent on the company really.Try and talk to your email support.There is nothing more anyone in here can do
    – yeah_well
    Oct 8, 2019 at 19:22
  • 1
    You lost access to your authentication mechanism and thus you cannot access your data anymore. This is the intended behavior of authentication mechanisms. The service is working fine, there is nothing to fix. If you could bypass the authentication and access your data, bad guys could do it too.
    – A. Hersean
    Oct 9, 2019 at 12:37
  • 1
    If you have a second factor that you can circumvent, then you don't have a second factor.
    – user163495
    Oct 9, 2019 at 13:47

2 Answers 2


As others have said, you (should) lose access to your account.

A common recommendation is to use TOTP 2FA and to backup the key.


Yup, this is the standard problem with increased security; whether it be email 2FA, a crazy alarm system on your house, a passport, whatever. If you say "Don't believe that it's me unless they have the thing", and then you lose the thing, you're in trouble.

SMS OTP is actually one of the easier losses to recover from because you can always get a new SIM card with the same number.

But when setting up OTP apps, or Yubikey / FIDO2 USB tokens, or client certificates / PGP keys / smart cards, etc, it's always a good idea to configure more than one 2FA method. For this exact reason I have two yubikeys; one is on my keychain, and one is in a safe place in my house.

  • 1 Gmail Questions Was Amusing ' Please look for the welcome email we sent you " Well Gmail If I Could Get Into My Email I would Kindly Let You Know " 2 Asks for email addresses that I have sent emails to ' I knew them but still would not let me in. Could someone be kind enough to explain what they man by more than just one authentic I thought a phone number and recovery email was sufficient. We all have a busy life and accessing your account and updating the phone number is the furthest from your mind or sorry mine Oct 9, 2019 at 21:57
  • Yeah. Thinking of it from Gmail's side, it's so hard to build a system that is strong at preventing attackers from getting in, but also easy for you to recover your account if you loose the second factor that you set up. Oct 9, 2019 at 22:13
  • I understand Gmail problem but you say it's easy for me to recover my account if I authentication that I set up . How can i if i have had my account for years and you log in to read emails but unfortunately forget in them years to update my number especially when am dyslexic and had a stroke so my memory is not so good to update my phone numbers to all accounts either that use my number . I always religiously go to fb security and see my login in and check were i have or if i have logged in . Also would you be kind enough to explain password management Oct 12, 2019 at 1:31
  • apps like last pass i did try it once but got confused and i tend to change password to my apps accounts and then forget them i tend to see if chrome will automatically log in and sometimes it doesn't remember the password so then i have to try to remember password then i use the same password for all apps not a good idea Oct 12, 2019 at 1:33

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