ProtonMail makes it easy for anyone in the world to create a free and secure email account. While our service has greatly expanded access to strong encryption, it has also attracted spammers, criminals, and trolls. We use algorithms that scan behavior indicators and anonymized usage data to identify and quickly disable abusive and fraudulent accounts automatically.
In very rare instances there are false positives. If you believe your account was disabled inappropriately, we understand the frustration and we apologize for any inconvenience. This article is intended to explain why your account may have been disabled and how you can restore access.
Why accounts get disabled
Our algorithm looks for common characteristics of spam and fraud accounts. For instance, an account with “ProtonMail Support” in the display name is likely to be disabled because it is impersonating an official contact. This is just one simple example. We combine dozens of other parameters, which we cannot disclose. We do not (and cannot) scan messages, which are end-to-end encrypted.
We also review reports of spam, abuse, and harassment from other users, including those submitted through our report phishing feature, and disable accounts found to be in violation.
Sometimes a legitimate account may be identified by the system as abusive and disabled. This may happen soon after the account was created, which means that it has been automatically disabled by our anti-abuse system, or it may be disabled if there are multiple reports about the account. It is important for us to block accounts before spammers can use them to the detriment of our IP reputation. We also use human verification methods, but these are not foolproof and spammers can bypass them.
Paid accounts can also be disabled if they violate our terms and conditions or if the payment method used has been reported for fraud. Spammers typically use stolen credit cards to pay for ProtonMail accounts. When we receive a report about a fraudulent payment, and we are able to confirm it, then the account is disabled and the payment is refunded.
We also see cases in which a user does not recognize a charge from us and disputes the payment with their financial institution. When this happens, the account is automatically disabled and, depending on the payment method, an additional charge may be applied to re-enable the account.
How to prevent your account from being disabled
One way to avoid account deactivation is to make sure your emails appear legitimate and are not mistaken for spam by your recipients. We receive many reports of unsolicited messages, which may lead to account deactivation.
Additionally, signing up for a paid account gives you increased sending limits. Spammers rarely upgrade, so different thresholds are used to identify abuse.
How to re-enable your account
If your account has been disabled in error, please contact us via the support form that appears when you try to log in to your account. You can also find the form here.
A real person will review your case and restore your account if it is not in violation of our terms and conditions, and no email will be lost.