How safe is your Skype name?


If you are like me you have come to depend on Skype for easy, free communications with friends and colleagues. Skype has become a simple way to chat or call any of your contacts and carry on discussions, no matter where the two (or more) parties might reside in the world. Skype recently released a new beta version, 2.0, that adds video capability, among other promised goodies like better audio quality. Sucker that I am for new versions, this morning I downloaded and installed the new beta version. Big mistake.

One of the neat features that Skype added a few versions back was storing your contacts on the Skype servers so no matter what device you log in from all the people you want to chat with are right there where you need them. This has saved me a ton of trouble since I test a lot of PCs and devices and I never have to worry about finding all my contacts online again. But I found today this can be a bit of a gotcha that I didn’t plan on.

Installing the new Skype beta was simple and once done it asked me to log in to my account which I did. Unfortunately, Skype told me my password was incorrect and wouldn’t let me into my account. Bear in mind this is the same password I have used since installing the very first beta version of Skype several years ago. So I was stumped at this point and unable to get into my account. No problem, I thought, I’ll request a password change and when I get into the account I’ll change it back. This is where it gets really dicey and long-time Skype users should pay particular attention. To change my password Skype asked for my Skype ID and the email account I used to register Skype for the very first time, which in my case was years ago. I ran through every email address I use now and when those didn’t work I started trying old email addresses I have used in the past (companies I used to work for and organizations I no longer belong to) before hitting on the correct one. It was an old email address I used when I was sys admin on the now defunct PocketPC Tools web site. I thought I was OK at this point and that it would let me into my account to reset the password. Nope, silly me for thinking that. Skype informed me it had successfully reset my password and the new password had been emailed to the old email address. The problem is, this web site has long since shut down and that email address is no longer valid. So I am hosed at this point.

I traipsed around the Skype help web site where I found the only option I have is to “open another account under a different user name”. What? To do this means I lose all my prepaid credits for SkypeIn and Out, Voicemail, etc. But the very worst part is losing all my contacts. Dozens and dozens of them. I have to notify each and every one of them that my Skype ID has changed and to please let me see when they are online so they will get added to my new account. This is frankly unacceptable. I have submitted a support ticket to Skype customer support and received an automated reply that said I would receive a reply within 48 hours, unless it takes longer. I swear that’s what it says.

I am the first to admit that it is not Skype’s fault that my old email address is no longer valid, but I’ll bet many Skype users have the same situation. Do you remember what email address you used to register Skype the first time? That problem aside it is definitely Skype’s fault that the new version installation would not recognize my tried and true password, that one I still don’t understand. Until I get some resolution from Skype customer support I will be using the following Skype ID so if you were in my contact list please add me so I can see you on Skype:


I really apologize for this inconvenience and I hope this is temporary as I shudder to think I will lose my original Skype ID. Shame on you, Skype.

I should add that this situation with Skype is what scares me about web-based applications and data storage. I can easily see a similar situation where you are blocked out of your data for a day or two until it gets straightened out. Can you imagine needing to access your own data stored on the web and not being able to?


Your Mom

I lost my Skype account due to this policy to. Not cool, Skype guys!


I have forgotten my password on the skype and i dont know how to get it please help me and please send for me my password. my e-mail is ( nick name on the skype is (sandym88)


i have forgot my password on the skype and i dont know how to get it please help me and please send for me my password. my e-mail is ( nick name on the skype is (fakishk)


TDavid, you are missing the point over and over again. Changing your email address after registration would be of no value in this instance. In order to reset your password, you must enter the email address you provided when you first created the Skype account – and ONLY that address can be used. Therefore, no matter how diligent some people have been about keeping their info up to date and remembering EVERYTHING they’ve ever entered, Skype can and has ruined their accounts. In my case, I didn’t enter an email address when originally I signed up, but DID enter one at a later time. When my password was suddenly and mysteriously courrupted through no fault of my own, it could not be fixed because my email address wasn’t part of my initial registration. Yes, this is a free service, but what people are pointing out here is how terribly flawed it is – free or not. For some reason, you seem determined to blame users for these flaws, but that blame is as misguided as the Skype password management plan.


I abandoned trying to find out my old password for skype, relying on the fact that my desktop remembers it for me and so can log in. On my laptop however, i had to create a new account, because I could not remember the password for my old one.

This was fine until this morning, when my skype client on this laptop forgot my password. I tried all of my different password, and I KNOW that it must be one of them, but it doesn’t accept any of them now.

I went on the website, to get my password reset. However the site did not accept any of the passwords I fed to it. This is the second time i’ve had to do this, and i’m getting pissed off. However some of my contacts ONLY use skype. So I have no choice, but to register AGAIN and hope that I can remember their details off the top of my head.


Oops correction. I pay for Skype*IN* with the voicemail, not SkypeOUT. And my point above is that before all these problems happened with the breach and password reset, the email address could have been changed.

Yes, it stinks that there was a breach and there have been numerous authentication issues on Skype’s end, but responsible users (and I’m not saying you aren’t, James) develop a program of account maintenance that includes changing passwords and keeping email addresses updated.

Too much in the way of identity theft these days not to have a program of changing passwords and keeping registered email data up to date.


And if it is something you are paying for (I pay for SkypeOUT, too, BTW) you should *definitely* want to keep your contact information update in Skype’s system. Why you didn’t makes zero sense.

Sometimes the person hardest to criticize stares you back in the mirror.


James – correct me if I’m wrong, but you could have changed your email address at any time through the skype account interface so I fail to see why you couldn’t have adjusted your “defunct address” if your name was that important.

Those who registered originally for Skype and didn’t provide an email addresss? When was that? I’m curious, because I don’t remember that ever happening. Not saying you are wrong, but I don’t remember that being an option. And if it was optional, how did these people expect to retrieve their password if they forgot it?

I’ve been writing about Skype since September 2003 when they had thousands of downloads instead of hundreds of millions and I don’t recall this registration being optional. Stuart Henshall and I went back and forth about Skype rather excitedly and I interviewed Andreas (product manager at the time) and demoed Skype on our weekly radio show. One of the key developers, Jaan, conversed with me as well. These are wayyyy smart devs.

Again, sorry to hear of your troubles, but I offered one possible solution which was dismissed. For an intelligent mobile guy like yourself, it seems you’d want to have and/or explore some logical system to manage your registration information — including email addresses.

You can keep blaming Skype though, but I still see this as primarily a user problem, not a Skype problem EXCEPT for the part about how they are blowing off your inquiry to get this resolved.

I’m not a huge Skype fan any more, so flame away at them all youw ant, but the bigger issue here seems to be user responsbility for managing registration/logins. With all due respect it is *you* who screwed the pooch on that one.


TDavid, I suppose we made the leap that you thought the problem was a forgotten password or email addy because of your recommendation for eWallet (or similar). In my original post I stated I did remember that defunct email address but since it is defunct I had no way to retrieve the new password. And yes, I do think that’s Skype’s problems as they must have an alternative system in place since they did NOT require early users to register with an email address. Skype users who never registered an email address can NEVER retrieve a reset password in the event that Skype pulls this password deactivation en masse again. That is a big problem for those Skype users.

Add in the fact that Skype’s original notification on Nov 30 to users that their passwords had been compromised, sent in an email that looked just like a phishing attempt, and they have handled this badly. If I as a user just forgot my own information shame on me, but Skype DEACTIVATED my password and the onus is on them, as far as I’m concerned. I have prepaid services on that account, they just can’t effectively turn it off. User comments on SkypeJournal indicate that the IP address used in the “log in and get a new password” email sent from Skype was a Doubleclick IP. Skype has screwed the pooch , and badly.


And as for MSM picking up on a single user’s failure to remember their own registration data isn’t really news, sorry.

The delay in getting a response from them is disturbing but I can give you a hint on that one. Go post over on Lenn Pryor’s blog about the issue. That’s how I got somebody to respond to me when I couldn’t login to awhile back.

I’m not sure why Skype has so much trouble with authentication, especially now that they have been infused with billions but maybe they are wasting all that money on a corporate infrastructure instead of technical people that can actually fix problems like this.


Scott and jk – where did I say the problem was a forgotten password? Read my comment again carefully. Programs like eWallet will save all your REGISTRATION information.

The problem is jk didn’t remember his original registered email address. I had the same problem described happen to me with Skype 2.0 and all I did was consult my original registration data in eWallet and said: ahh, so that’s the email address I need to watch and requested a new password. It was sent to that address and voila, all was well when I logged into Skype.

Why blame Skype for forgetting your own registration email address is beyond me, but to each his own. There are solutions, that was my point.


TDavid, Scott_H is right on the money with this. I am surprised main stream press hasn’t picked up on this yet. Skype is indeed deactivating existing good passwords and leaving many long-time users unable to access their accounts. No access to contacts nor your prepaid services. Skype is telling affected customers (via FAQ) that they must abandon their account and get a new one if they either supplied no email address upon first registration way back when (I did) or if they no longer have access to the email account they first used to register. Your only recourse is to file a help ticket and wait. So far I have heard nothing from them so my account has been locked out for several days now. My only transgression was to upgrade to the 2.0 beta which is what many users are reporting is the trigger.



The problem isn’t a “forgotten” password. I have my password stored in a “password” application. But that’s beside the point since my Skype had been set up to connect automatically (which it had done properly every time until yesterday).

The problem is that something changed at Skype whereby my password (and lots of others’ judging by the rising chorus of complaints on the Skype forums) no longer works. I changed nothing on my end (I didn’t even upgrade to Skype 2.0) and suddenly I’m locked out of my account.

And, as I’m finding out, dealing with Skype’s customer service isn’t the same as calling the local telco.

Online commerce can be very convenient, cost effective, and usually works well. But, when something goes wrong…Nelly, bar the door! It’s an exercise in extreme frustration trying to set things right.

There’s speculation (emphasis on the word speculation) that Skype was hacked. I suspect we’ll know soon enough, because eBay (Skype’s new owner) is a California corporation and CA has a very strict law requiring immediate notification if someone’s financial data has been hacked. If Skype’s passwords have somehow been compromised, that means everyone who has purchased any products from them could potentially have their financial data compromised.

On the other hand, there’s also speculation that Skype, recognizing the potential for being hacked based on the way they used passwords on Skype forums, acted hastily to change that (by cancelling all passwords?) — and in the process, they inadvertantly locked many people out of their accounts without warning (emphasis on the words “without warning”).

I hope we find something out soon.


jk – bummer :( A couple years ago I finally got into a habit of using a system for controlling and managing login/registration information. Though this won’t help you with the past, I’m happy to share this with you for the future.

Store all your website registration and login info in an encrypted, password protected database. Yeah, you still have to remember the master password to unlock your database, but it’s one password instead of hundreds or thousands.

I’ve been using eWallet for the Pocket PC / Desktop (it could also run on the Tablet of course) and all I need to remember is to take the Pocket PC around with me, but I’ve known other folks who use a biometric with thumbdrive to store the logins. This works good for storing software serial numbers, product keys, contact information, FTP/SSH info and a ton of other login and computer related info.


I wonder if something else is going on at Skype. I didn’t upgrade to the beta, but I do have the most current version installed. I just tried to login and got a “Error Invalid Skype Name or password” message. My program is setup to login automatically (and, prior to this, it had successfully every time).

I tried logging in on a different machine and it worked — the first time. I logged out and tried to reconnect again on the same machine, and I got that error message on that one, too.

So, now I’m locked out of my Skype account. What’s going on, Skype?


I’m wondering if they are playing hard ball with this due to the compromised passwords at

Kevin C. Tofel

Well now, don’t I feel awful for telling you I upgraded with no issues last night? I know that’s not the point, but I still feel bad. I hope they fix this problem. Why can’t they institute a password reset by the Skype name in the future?

Mickey Segal

I signed up for another Skype name, this time using an email address on registration. The only warning you get is “A valid e-mail address is the only way to find forgotten passwords”. There is no warning that the email address can never be provided past that point and there is no mention of what happens if Skype messes up its password list.

Mickey Segal

The Skype FAQ:

does seem to indicate exactly what you said:

“If you entered an email address when you registered for Skype, you can request a new password … ”

I guess one could imagine a scenario in which someone using your computer got into the profile and changed your password and email address, locking you out of your account. If Skype also sent your password to your new address they could be revealing it to the account hijacker.

I didn’t remember it being clear on initial registration that this was the only chance you would ever have to make your password recoverable, even if Skype corrupted the password lists.


Mickey, the email address in your profile has nothing to do with the address used to register Skype in the first place. Many people did not supply an email address when first registering Skype (they didn’t require it) and according to Skype’s customer support FAQ if you ever get locked out due to password problems you MUST get a totally new account. In a Googling session earlier I encountered this blog post and comment thread that may be related:

This details a password comprise problem Skype notified some users on November 30th. They did it via email and it looked like a phish attempt so many people trashed it. According to this article the official Skype response said password problems only affected 1% of Skype users. Last I checked the Skype web site (which is right now) they are claiming over 215 million downloads. That 1% is over 2 MILLION potential people with problems. I am amazed this hasn’t hit the tech news big time.

Mickey Segal

I had no trouble with the upgrade to Skype 2.0 beta, but it may be because I just did a regular uninstall and didn’t wipe out all Skype data on my computer as someone more careful might have done, or because I signed up only weeks before installing beta 2. I didn’t use any email address when setting up my account, but I added one now, using a special purpose address that I control.

JK: Are you saying that the email address on your “My Profile” screen wouldn’t be the one that Skype would use and that they would insist on the first email address you ever used? Or is it just that you can’t get into your “My Profile” screen to see the listed address? If it is the latter you would be saved if you could find an installed copy of Skype somewhere that has your account information – you could also change your password directly from such an installed copy.

Ian Betteridge

JK, I’ve done exactly the same thing – so it’s not just you. I think that Skype 2.0 is doing something weird with passwords, as a new install of it refused to let me in with my regular password. So I did the same as you – reset my password, and then remembered it’s linked to an old, dead email address. Ouch. Let’s hope they can sort this out.


Oh no! Yuck. On the bright side I upgraded to the skype beta last week and today I borrowed a little camera and the video part worked without a hitch. Small screen but that may not be that bad a thing :-) Olga

Roy Gardiner

I feel your pain. I’m currently going through a similar situation with my yahoo account. I run the risk of losing my email as well as the 6 domain name I registed with them. The people at flickr were nice enough to unlink my account though, yay for them..

Not fun at all.

Warner Crocker

Ouch. I had a similar thing happen back when I did the full reinstall. Like a fool I neglected to copy down any of my Skype info. When I reinstalled Skype I had fogotten the user name I set up. At the time I used it very infrequently. Marc Orchant came to the resuce with what the user name was and I was back up thank goodness, but, I got the same, you have to create a new account approach as well.

Not fun.

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