Access Old Phone Number: How to?

Here’s how to access your old phone number for things like password resets or other authentication:

The easiest thing to do is not worry about your phone number and use other resources available from whoever runs the account. 

Usually, you can use email accounts, backup phone numbers, security questions, and other things to prove yourself.

If you absolutely need the old phone number, contact your carrier for help.

If you want to learn all about how to access an old phone number, then this article is for you.

Let’s get started!

Access Old Phone Number: How to? (Do This ASAP)

Why Do You Need the Old Phone Number?

woman using laptop at home

A lot of internet-based security is built around authentication.

The software tries to use things that allow you to prove who you are.

This prevents strangers from accessing your accounts, and for certain types of accounts, that’s extremely important.

A lot of the security is tied to your phone number.

The idea is that if you know a password and have access to your phone number on file, you are probably who you say you are. 

But, if you don’t have access to an old number that you used with one or more of your accounts, it can suddenly be hard to identify yourself.

The epitome of this problem is found in the world of two-factor authentication.

Two-Factor Authentication

man using phone and laptop at the same time, for 2 factor authentication

The most common security issue you might run into if you change your phone number is two-factor authentication.

This is used by the majority of online accounts in the world.

Typically, it’s a great security measure, but sometimes it can create problems.

Here’s how it works.

When you set up your account (or opt into two-factor authentication), you provide a phone number and an email address for verification.

Normally, if you forget your password, you can use either the email or your phone number to verify your identity and do the reset.

With two-factor authentication, you need to use the email or phone number to be allowed to sign in on a device at all.

When you put in the password, you will receive either a text or an email with a temporary code.

You also have to provide that code to sign in to your account.

Here’s the thing.

With many accounts, it’s possible (and sometimes encouraged) to set up two-factor authentication with only your phone number and not your email address. 

If this is the case, then if you no longer have access to an old number, you won’t be able to get through the verification process.

Even if you can reset your password with your email address, it doesn’t solve the two-factor authentication issue.

You’re stuck.

How Do You Access Your Accounts With an Old Phone Number? (3 Systems)

Removing or replacing simcard out of a smartphone and changing number

So, two-factor authentication and other security protocols can be a problem.

When that’s the case, what can you do about it?

You have a few options.

First, you can try to access the old phone number.

If you still own the number, it’s not that hard.

You need a SIM card, which might require you to talk to the carrier.

If you don’t still own the number, you can try talking to the carrier, but that is a mixed bag.

Still, it’s covered a little farther down.

Your third option is to use resources provided by whoever maintains the account.

If you need access to your Apple account, look for Apple resources.

You get the idea.

#1 On iPhone

Young woman lying relaxed with phone and laptop on the comfortable couch

If you’re dealing with an Apple ID, you have a few options.

Typically, you can go through a verification process to confirm your identity to get into the Apple ID and reset your two-factor authentication.

To do this, you will need an already trusted device.

If you don’t have a trusted device, then you can contact Apple support.

They have a standard way to verify who you are and reset some of the security measures on your account.

With their help, you can recover the ID, and you can update the phone number, so this isn’t still a problem.

#2 On Android

mother holding smart phone and using laptop with her baby

If you use an Android, it’s pretty much the same story.

You can use a trusted device to access your account and change the associated phone number for two-factor authentication.

When this isn’t possible, Google can allow you to verify with alternative methods.

Google heavily encourages users to set up backup emails or trusted phone numbers.

These can be used to recover an account when you can’t get through two-factor authentication.

If none of this works, you can go through Google support to get more options.

Once you do recover the account, it might be a good idea to set up a backup email and/or phone number for recovery purposes.

#3 For Third-Party Accounts

pretty brunette using phone and laptop sitting on the floor in living room

What if your account has nothing to do with Google or Apple?

Well, there are a lot of different accounts out there, and each will have its own system in place.

Look for alternative ways to verify your identity.

If you can get through that, you can access your account and change the phone number.

If that’s not an option, the best resort is to go through tech support for the account in question.

Most major companies have systems in place for exactly this kind of thing.

If you’re dealing with an account for a small or obscure company, things might take a little more time and effort.

Can You Get Access to the Old Phone Number?

Young business woman on the phone at office.

If you really need to, there are ways to gain access to the old number, but there are some major caveats along the way.

The first thing to do is contact your carrier.

They can activate a SIM card for the old number so you can use it to recover the account.

Now, they aren’t just going to send you a second phone number. 

Your best bet is to go to a local store and work with them there.

They can conceivably activate a SIM card on the spot with one of the phones in the store.

Once you recover your account and update the phone number, they can keep track of that SIM card, and the phone used to keep everything secure.

That said, if the phone number has been recycled, you might be out of luck.

The carrier will not give you access to someone else’s phone number, even if it used to be your number. 

If you’re in this situation, a delay is your enemy.

All phone numbers are ultimately recycled.

It’s just a matter of time, so try to resolve the issue before that can happen with your old number.

There’s one other possibility.

If you still have control of the old number, then you just need a SIM card linked to it.

You can pop that card into any working phone, and it will give you access to the number.

Reset your account, and you’re good to go.


  • Theresa McDonough

    Tech entrepreneur and founder of Tech Medic, who has become a prominent advocate for the Right to Repair movement. She has testified before the US Federal Trade Commission and been featured on CBS Sunday Morning, helping influence change within the tech industry.

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