Have you ever been locked out of your own Google account because you did not have the phone nearby to verify a prompt or SMS code? It happens when you log in from what Google decides is a suspicious device or location.
Anyone can lose or damage their device or SIM card, which means it might be a good idea not to keep your Google account subject to the phone’s availability. If you believe that you set up a very strong password and recovery email, it is possible to log in to Gmail and other Google services without a phone. Let’s find out how to temporarily (or permanently) revoke Google’s access to your phone number and smartphone.
Google’s Two-Factor Verification: A Necessary Evil?
Since 2011 Google support has been recommending that account holders always keep their phone numbers handy for two-factor verification. In fact, the day you first set it up, Google took away your privilege to access your own account without a phone number.
However, that’s not how two-factor verification is supposed to work. Its definition and scope is wider than that. For example, when you log in to Google with backup codes, that also counts as two-factor verification. There is absolutely no need to lug a phone around everywhere to feel secure.
The fact to remember is that associating a phone with a Google account is not compulsory. This means there are ways you can deny Google the permission to force you to use your phone.
Disabling Google Prompt on Phone
A Google prompt on your phone requires you to verify a number that you see on the screen for further login access. This service kicks in immediately after Google labels a device or network that you are using as “suspicious.”
To disable this service, visit your Google Account homepage and click “Signing in to Google.”
Here you can see the option for two-step verification. Even if it is turned off, you must turn it on. That is the only way you can disable Google prompts on your phone. Before you can proceed, you will have to confirm your account password to change the settings.
You will then be led to the next screen where you can “turn off” the Google prompt. In the below screen, it was already turned off. You can also find the option for “Google Authenticator App” right below “Backup codes.”
If you don’t want to use your phone with Google but still want the same level of security, you can set up backup codes. There are 10 backup codes, and each can be used only once. Take a PDF print and save it on your computer, or write those codes down somewhere. You can get as many new codes as you like. Just make sure no one can ever see them.
Congratulations! If you followed the above step-by-step procedure, Google will no longer be able to ask about your smartphone device for logins. Provided you set up a really strong password, you have nothing else to worry about. Do note that Google does not like it when you turn off two-step verification!
Disabling Recovery Phone Number
In case you forget the password, you will have to set up a recovery account. Again, it does not have to be a phone number. In order to revoke access to your phone number, again visit “Sign-in & Security” in your Google account.
All you have to do is delete your recovery phone number in the next screen. This puts an end to verification codes via SMS.
Note: Google no longer supports “Security Questions,” so if you forgot your password after deleting the recovery phone number, the only way to gain access to your account would be through an alternative email. It is recommended not to delete the “recovery email.”
In this tutorial we have learned how to temporarily or permanently remove your phone number and smartphone associated with a Google account. While it is a fairly easy procedure, hardly any information on this method is available online. Indeed, the procedure appears more confusing than what it really is.
For privacy advocates, the more important question is: should Google have the right to dictate whether or not you use a phone number for their services? Please let us know in the comments your thoughts on this.