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How I Survived Getting Locked Out of My Devices for 2 Weeks

Photo by  Mitchel Lensink  on  Unsplash

What would you lose if your AppleID were compromised?

Mine was.

The hacker — who is just as evil as Sauron or Palpatine or Joker — changed my AppleID password and then turned on the Lost Phone feature.

In a flash, I was locked out of all my devices.

He provided a suspicious email address that I needed to contact in order to have my devices freed.

Ransom. Or worse.

Of course this happened while we were traveling.

Of course it occurred on a Friday night — after the Apple Support Team had already closed.

As you would expect, I had a two-day workshop to conduct in two days.

I didn’t know my passwords for email or my backups — because I relied on my devices to remember them for me.

I didn’t know phone numbers of any friends, family or co-workers.

I was cut off from EVERYTHING and EVERYONE!


Get Ready for the Flood of Emotions



Freak out.

That’s a lot of alliteration.



Freak out again.

Then I started the long, slow process of AppleID Recovery.

When they told me it would take at least a week — or longer — I struggled to control my panic.

I get it. Apple wants to cover its tracks and make sure they are granting access to the legitimate owner.

I resigned myself that I had no other options.

Then came a surprising feeling of liberation.

The process took two weeks for me. I was both liberated and debilitated for two weeks.

The Survival Guide For When You’re Locked Out of Your Devices

  1. DON’T write to the suspicious email address! Even if you want to cuss them out. You open yourself to even more problems. Contact Apple first.
  2. Keep a non-AppleID-connected backup of your files — Fortunately, I use Dropbox, not iCloud, to back up my documents. Had I used iCloud, I would’ve been locked out of ALL my documents too. And the villain could’ve erased everything. Turned out to be a smart move.
  3. Keep a hard copy of your logins and passwords — Our trusted neighbor was able to access our home while we were out of town. She texted a photo of the sheet to my wife’s phone.
  4. Be nice to your partner — Because you will be sharing her (or his) phone and laptop for a while. Shower your hero with gratitude.
  5. Trust Apple’s process — Even though it’s slower than you’d like, it is protecting you.
  6. Take advantage of the period of liberation—I used to think the devices were enabling my life. I reality, I had permitted them to control my life. Being free of them was like the days of landlines and modems — I could only check messages a couple times a day. I had time to write — longhand. I recommend it.

Preventing the Fiasco

Here’s what I recommend you do:

  1. Set up two-step authentication on your devices — Hackers would need to have your device also to compromise your AppleID.
  2. Travel with a hard copy of your logins and passwords and phone numbers, just in case — Find a secure way to do that. I would tell you what I did, but then it wouldn’t be secure, right?
  3. Stop using easy passwords — Hackers mean business. You should too.

You Can Survive This

I’m living proof.


Sometimes You Need a Little Creativity Boost

My free eBook might just help:

5 Exercises that Will Make You 10 Times More Creative

I use these exercises to keep the juices flowing — in myself and in my clients. (I am a marketing consultant, after all.)

You can follow my blog on Medium.

You can follow my journey to get published on Facebook.

Bryan Searing