Character challenge when sending via Hotmail

When I’m sending an email via my Hotmail account I’m being prompted to type in some characters.

Why do I have to type these characters and how do I get rid of this prompt?

This Captcha challenge or Human Interaction Proof (HID), as Microsoft refers to it, is to verify that a human is actually sitting behind the computer and sending the emails and not some automated (spam) script. Usually when you get this dialog and you haven’t been doing anything out of the ordinary, you’ll only have to answer this dialog once and won’t be bothered with them for quite some time or at all.

There are various reasons why you might get this prompt;

  • They are shown at random so every now and then you’ll get this dialog.
  • You’re sending more emails than the allowed daily or hourly limit.
  • You have not been using your account for a long time.
  • Your account has been reported as a spammer.
  • Your account has been compromised.
  • Your account has been blocked from sending  some other reasons.

Sending limits

The sending limits depend on your whether or not you have a paid subscription. It also depends on whether or not this is a new account. If you have a new account, your sending limits will increase after a couple of days. So if you just opened a new account, do not start directly with sending out with hundreds of emails to inform everyone of your new email address. Directly using Mail Merges will not do you any good either since you’ll be hitting the hourly limit very fast as well.

A better approach would be to only notify your most prominent contacts first and notify the rest after a couple of days once your account has been fully unlocked. Notifying them via other means such as an Instant Message is of course also an option.

Change your password

If you have your account for a while already and now are constantly being bombarded with these character challenge boxes, it could be that you account has been compromised and is being used by spammers. This means that somehow, somebody got a hold of your password. This could be due to phishing or that you have signed with an untrustworthy website and have used the same email/password combination as for your Hotmail account.

In this case, immediately change your password for your Hotmail account! After a few days this character challenges should stop as well.

As you usually have to leave an email address when signing up for a service which requires a logon, it is good practice to have an absolute unique password for your email account.

Keep getting the character challenge

If you continue to receive the dialog or are otherwise prevented from sending and receiving emails via your Live Hotmail account, you can post an unlock request in the Hotmail Forums of the Windows Live Solution Center.

Captcha challenge Hotmail
If you cannot read the mangled characters, press the speaker icon to hear them or the refresh icon to get new characters.

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