Legality of holding Office 365 account hostage

Hello, first time poster here. I have a question that seems hard to pin to a particular category. I am wondering if anyone is familiar with any legislation or case law around holding an admin account hostage by a previous IT vendor due to non-payment of said vendor’s bills.

I am an IT vendor and a client of mine needs access to his Office 365 admin account to update his payment method. Right now, his email is non-functioning due to expired credit card. The recovery information to the admin account goes to the previous IT vendor (email, phone, and text).

I realize this may be a long shot but I appreciate any insight.

It’s not really tech-related, isn’t it. I’d recommend contacting a friendly lawyer for that answer.

Free tech-tip for your client: ditch Office 365, use free copies of LibreOffice on all local machines and an in-house hosted cloud-based sharing platform to collaborate.


Good advice

Maybe less so.

Who does the Microsoft 365 account belong to?

but generally I agree with the other poster, you probably want legal advice.

IIRC, failing to pay a legitimate bill would be breach of contract?
The client would have to dispute bill/services with the old supplier. (or pay the outstanding)

Might be cheaper just to pay off a bad supplier than to go the legal route in civil court?


You’re not wrong. The guy is still owned his money even if hes doing something wrong now.

Without getting into the he-said-she-said, the previous IT vendor has yet to provide these outstanding bills.

The IT vendor has not been paying for the service, the client has, with the client’s own credit card. It just expired. It seems to me the account belongs the business owner of the company in question and the IT vendor has an obligation to be transparent with the password.

Again, seek legal counsel.

In the meantime I would migrate the email away from office 365 or to a separate account, because you’re not likely to get anything done quickly here.

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You could also phone up Microsoft to recover the account, update your card and restore your 365 service

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Yes, that is what I told the client the next step would be - to contact his lawyer.

In the meantime, they will have no access to email data to migrate anything :wink:

Thanks for entertaining the thought guys.

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you wont have access to email data thats already sent but you should be able to migrate to a working email so they can at least get what hasnt been sent yet.

Not sure, but I hope you’re demanding payment up front.