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My Account Is Locked, What Do I Do?

2022-08-01

Main Takeaways

At Binance, we understand that having your account locked is a deeply frustrating experience. We work hard to minimize that as much as possible, and our teams work directly with affected users to, hopefully, fix these issues. 

As a centralized exchange, we have a duty to protect your funds, collaborate with regulatory and law enforcement agencies, and protect the ecosystem (other users). This article explains some of the reasons that your account may be locked, and how you can go about unlocking it.

Your account could be locked for a number of reasons, including when:

  • A hacker may have access to your account. We need to lock it to protect your funds.

  • You may have recently interacted with a known scammer. We want to protect you from that.

  • You have a potential nexus to a sanctioned individual or an entity, or live in a sanctioned location.

  • You may have traveled to a sanctioned country or territory.

  • You may have violated our Terms of Use.

  • You may be missing a document for KYC or AML purposes.

  • Your funds may be associated with a hack, scam, or rug pull that happened in the DeFi space.

  • You may be a hacker or otherwise malicious user.

  • Your account is locked at the request of a Law Enforcement Agency (Police)

We will dive deeper into these reasons in this article as well as share with you the steps on how you can work with our team to get your account up and running again.

Background

Binance, like banks and any other traditional financial institution you interact with on a daily basis, must abide by local, state, and federal laws in order to remain compliant and to foster a safe trading environment for our users.

This is critical for the growth of the blockchain and crypto ecosystem. However, there are strict rules in place in jurisdictions across the globe that must be followed by both crypto exchanges and law enforcement before a user account can be frozen.

This ensures that law enforcement has the tools necessary to conduct investigations while preventing potential overreach or abuse of power. We do our best to highlight this obligation clearly in our Terms of Use, as well as throughout our ecosystem.

Having clear processes in place to accept and respond to regulatory and law enforcement inquiries allows for a robust product ecosystem to exist on the Binance platform, without fear of widespread outages resulting from sweeping regulatory actions.  

The existence of these policies safeguards the interests of over 100 million users, deters bad actors from exploiting users on our platform, and fosters a more stable trading environment.

One particular tool that law enforcement frequently employs is the temporary locking of accounts that, for a number of reasons, are flagged as potentially operating outside our Terms of Use. 

It’s important to understand that law enforcement will often have to freeze a number of accounts to identify which accounts are or aren’t involved in their investigation. Unfortunately, this means that innocent users oftentimes may be impacted temporarily by these investigations. 

We understand that, for any user, having an account locked is an extraordinarily frustrating situation, especially when the reason for the account being locked might not be immediately clear. However, Binance works hand in hand with regulators and law enforcement to ensure their investigations minimize potential lock-out periods for innocent users.

Below we will detail some of the broad reasons why accounts are flagged for locking, provide a bit of context as to what this means for Binance, users, and what processes are in place to resolve potential account locks.

Reasons

Typically, an account will be temporarily frozen on Binance for one of the key reasons below. This list is not exhaustive and there are always special exceptions that our team keeps in mind when evaluating these accounts, but these represent the most frequent cases.

  1. Securing User Funds

If our system detects that your account may have been compromised, we will temporarily lock your account to ensure the safety of your funds.

As early as January 2019, our systems were even able to detect when users were SIM swapped and had their password stolen, and could proactively restrict the affected account, preventing hackers from withdrawing the assets. 

In one particular incident, this proactive lock prevented bad actors from stealing a user’s entire altcoin portfolio.

There are many ways your account may be hacked without your knowledge. Any file you download or receive may include a virus, another exchange you use may have leaked your email and password, you may be a victim of a SIM swap, etc. 

As cyber criminals become more sophisticated, these methods will continue to evolve, but so will our ability to protect user funds.

Very often, even the hackers will try to contact our customer service, trying to trick us into releasing the funds so that they can steal them. This is why we have such robust KYC procedures in place and why we require personal ample identification documents and the like.

We know this can be very annoying to you, but it is necessary to keep your funds safe.

When faced with these issues, the best thing for you to do is to work with our customer service team, provide them with the information they need, and remain patient while we work to unlock your account.

  1. Protecting Users from Scammers

As a centralized exchange, Binance offers a variety of methods for fiat-holding traders to interact with the Binance ecosystem. 

If our system detects you have been a victim of a scammer or fraud, we will lock your account to ensure you are still in control of your account, and are well educated about identifying and avoiding.

Two of the most common ways this is done is via P2P as well as fiat direct deposits. For the vast majority of users, this is a safe, seamless process that gives any authorized trader the full Binance experience.

In some cases, though, bad actors will attempt to take advantage of these systems to defraud users. Thanks to our sophisticated monitoring systems, and with the help of user feedback, we are able to detect a vast majority of these attempts and immediately lock the accounts in question until we perform a detailed investigation. 

Our customer service team will then work with affected users to ensure that they are aware of this situation and offer assistance. The guilty parties will be off-boarded from Binance and reported to the relevant authorities.

  1. Sanctions

If you live in a comprehensively sanctioned country or territory, we will have to lock your account and initiate off-boarding. Most of the time, you simply won’t be able to sign up, or pass KYC. But new rules do come up, especially given the ever changing geopolitical environment.

Please understand, we don’t make sanction laws, but we must follow them. There isn’t any choice here. In most instances, your account will be put into withdrawal only mode, and you must withdraw your assets. For users that are affected by these restrictions, we will give notice in advance to allow them to take any necessary action. 

In order to meet with international regulations, even if you are not a sanctioned individual or entity, you may be deemed to have a potential nexus to a sanctioned individual or entity and therefore not allowed to trade on our platform. 

We maintain working groups with most of these global institutions and are working to advance crypto adoption as part of the rule of international law.

  1. Restricted Countries

If you have traveled to a restricted country, you may also trigger an account lock. 

For example, if you traveled to the US and accessed your account, our system will lock your account and ask you to verify that you are not an US citizen and do not live in the US. 

This is to ensure no US citizens or residences are using Binance.com (they may instead use Binance.US).

  1. Violation of Terms of Use

If we detect that you have violated our Terms of Use, we may lock your account for a period of time or until the issue has been resolved. There are many possibilities here, but some of the more common ones include submitting a fake document, abusive behavior, and showing signs of being a hacker.

In most cases, our customer service team will let you know the particular action that has caused this violation of our Terms of Use so that you can take action. In severe cases, we may have to involve law enforcement, and may not be able to tell you the exact reason right away. 

Our teams have a robust procedure in place to give the user as much information as possible to expedite this process.

However, we may not be able to do so for some of the next few cases.

  1. Hackers & Malicious Players

If we have strong reason to believe that you are a hacker or have malicious intentions, we may involve law enforcement and may not be able to disclose the reasons to you right away.

Sadly, we don’t always get this right. But we usually only invoke this when we have strong evidence, especially for long account locks.

Binance does not take the assets seized during these proceedings, but instead hands them over to the relevant authorities in response to a court order or a seizure warrant.

  1. Law Enforcement Requests

As part of our commitment to creating the safest, most compliant crypto exchange in the world, Binance works closely with global law enforcement and regulatory agencies. 

A key part of this relationship involves our compliance and security teams investigating accounts and wallets flagged by law enforcement as being involved in potential criminal activity.

We take these requests very seriously and have previously worked together to thwart the efforts of international cybercrime organizations.

One such case was our work against Lazarus, responsible for the Ronin hack, where we were instrumental in recovering $5.8 million that had been taken from users.

One particular tool that law enforcement frequently employs is the temporary locking of accounts that, for a number of reasons, are flagged as potentially flouting our Terms of Use. 

It’s important to understand that law enforcement will often have to freeze a number of accounts to identify which accounts are or aren’t involved in their investigation. Unfortunately, this means that oftentimes innocent users may be impacted temporarily by these investigations. 

Further, some law enforcement (LE) requests allow us to disclose to the user the nature of the investigation and even direct the user to contact the relevant authorities themselves. 

In our interaction with affected users, this is the preferred way, but oftentimes, the authorities will ask us not to share the nature of the request with the affected user. In this unfortunate case, we are unable to provide the user with information other than they may have violated our Terms of Use.

What to do if my account has been locked

We understand that it can be frustrating to log in to your Binance account to find that it has been locked. Rest assured that there are procedures in place for account recovery and in resolving and outstanding issues.

The best thing to do is to get in touch with our customer service team to get more information on the lock and to work on the appropriate steps to unlock your account. You can also head on over to our Support Center to learn more about this process.

Often, an account lock can be lifted by providing our team with additional information or verification documents. Furthermore, law enforcement in most jurisdictions is required to contact users directly if they formally seize funds from their accounts, allowing them an opportunity to claim these funds through legal channels. 

On occasion, an account may be frozen that is completely outside of Binance’s control. We ask for your patience and understanding while we work with the external parties who are enacting the block to release your account as quickly as possible.

Conclusion

Binance puts the safety of our customers first and we have continued to invest in the best people and the best technology in the market to ensure that we keep up with an ever-changing ecosystem.

We will continue to implement measures that protect our users from bad actors and build out our investigative and threat assessment capabilities.