ProtonMail makes it easy for anyone in the world to create a free and secure email account. Our service has dramatically expanded access to secure encryption. However, like any email service, it can be abused by scammers and criminals. We use algorithms that scan behavior indicators and anonymized usage data to identify and quickly disable abusive and fraudulent accounts automatically. We also use human verification checks when new users set up ProtonMail accounts, but none of these methods are foolproof.
In 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 explains 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 fraudulent accounts. For instance, an account with “ProtonMail Support” in the display name will likely be disabled because it is impersonating an official contact. This is just one 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 violate our terms and conditions.
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 our anti-abuse system automatically disabled it. Other red flags that may lead to false-positives include multiple reports of abuse regarding the same account. In these cases, we need to block accounts quickly before spammers can use them to harass or scam other users.
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. If we receive a report about a fraudulent payment and we confirm it, we will disable the account and refund the payment.
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.
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. Once your inbox is restored, you will regain access to all your emails.