One popular question we get at DoctorDave Computer Repair in Lawrence and Kansas City is “Can you recover my password?” Many times it’s an innocent problem, but we always play it safe.
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Why Do You Get Locked Out of Your Computer?
The most common reason is plain forgetfulness. You haven’t used it in a few months and you just forgot the password. Sometimes it’s a glitch in the computer. Maybe your keyboard isn’t working or Windows has a virus. We even see when you change your password on your iPhone; it changes your Mac’s password.
What If You Need Access, But Don’t Have the Password
Just because you own the computer, doesn’t mean you’re the main user. You could have given the computer to the kids or your employees. If you need something on the computer, those people might not give you the password. Ouch! Unfortunately, we’ll often have to deal with the computer of a person who passed away. Our client needs access to close out the owner’s affairs.
What We Need For Password Resets
We treat all clients equally. No matter how trustworthy you seem, we need your name to match the username on the computer. If they’re the same, we’ll use the methods we have to remove the password. If the names don’t match, then we’ll need a few more things:
1.) A receipt for the computer that matches your name. If it’s obvious you own the computer we can stop asking other questions.For example, if you bought it for your child, and we’re resetting that child’s account. If it is a business computer, then we need an email from the company that you’re authorized to reset the password.
2.) If the computer owner passed away, we need a document that lists you as the executor of the estate.
3.) If it’s for someone of diminished mental capacity (an elderly parent for example), then we need Power of Attorney.
Why Are We So Difficult?
We’re ethically hacking into a computer, so we have to be careful. The obvious reason we hesitate is we don’t want to help a thief. It’s not always that. A spouse wants us to see what the husband or wife is doing on the computer. An employee might want to see what is on the boss’s computer. We’ve encountered both those situations in the past.
Most people who are asking us to reset a password for legal reasons are happy to meet our guidelines. Some clients thank us for asking this information. After all, they want to make sure their stuff is secure.
When a client gives us grief or is offensive on the phone, we call the police. If “something doesn’t seem right,” we call the police. Most of the time the concern is a false alarm. The laptop isn’t reported as stolen, so we proceed based on our guidelines. One time we called and in fact, the computer was stolen, and we gave the contact info to the police. Due to privacy, they couldn’t tell us the details, beyond that the computer made it back to the rightful owner.
That one incident made it worth the hurdles we give everyone for a password reset.