password

iPhone asks for unknown voicemail password

iPhone voicemail password request

Has your iPhone all of a sudden started asking you for your voicemail password? Is it not letting you in even though you’re sure you entered the right voicemail password? Or have you completely forgotten the password?

When this started happening to me, I ran a search on Twitter and found a lot of people complaining about the same thing. Which means it might have been an AT&T system glitch and nothing we users did wrong on our phones. People have proposed various solutions out there, everything from calling AT&T customer service to having the phone send you a new temporary password via SMS. But what worked for me was a lot simpler and I didn’t have to use a different password.

My fix. I used my iPhone to dial my own phone number, which answers by putting me directly into my voicemail account. I then followed the voicemail menu to where you can change your password, and get this: it didn’t ask me for the old password before entering the new one. How convenient. I entered the password I wanted, and the next time AT&T voicemail asked me for my password, I entered that one and it worked.

When you get to the AT&T voicemail menu, here’s the sequence (or just listen to the menus if they changed them around):

  1. Press 4 for personal options.
  2. Press 2 for administrative options.
  3. Press 1 to manage passwords.
  4. Press 1 to change the password.
  5. When the system asks you to enter the password you want, do it.
  6. When the system lets you know the new password is set, press * to back out of the menus until the system says “Goodbye!”

The next time the Voicemail screen asks you for your password, the one you just set up should work. And all of your saved voicemails should show up again. That’s what happened to me, anyway; if it isn’t working for you I really don’t know what to do next except maybe contact AT&T.

OK, that was easy. But if there was a kung-fu film called Enter the Password, at this point its hero might say, looking around with suspicion, “…that was too easy.”

Security concern. While it was convenient to be able to change my password without having to know whatever mystery password AT&T was expecting before, security-minded readers may see this as a security hole. It means that if your iPhone is in the wrong hands for less than a minute, they could easily lock you out of your own voicemail by changing your password. Just another reason why every smartphone user should use the feature that locks your phone when you don’t use it for a couple of minutes, requiring a passcode to get back in. Yes, a phone passcode is a hassle, but there’s just too much personal information on these phones now and too much access to key parts of your life to allow a smartphone to be unsecured.