MFA: troubleshooting common issues

Please read through these solutions to common problems with MFA - if you are still having issues, please contact your local IT support or the central IT Service Desk on +44 1865 6 12345.

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If you have tried verifying with all the methods that you have set up and none of them are working, you should contact your local IT support or the central IT Service Desk on +44 1865 6 12345, who can offer help and, if necessary, can reset your account.

If it's an emergency and you can't wait until you have access to your phone, then you can contact your local IT support or central Service Desk on +44 1865 6 12345 and they can reset your account.

If it's not an emergency, then you should wait until you can access your phone as normal. We also recommend setting up another verification method that doesn't use your mobile such as a phonecall to a landline or the Authy app on your computer.

If you have lost your phone you find our guide for setting up MFA on a new phone helpful.

You should be able to select the option on the mobile app that generates a one-time passcode, which requires no mobile data or Wi-Fi connectivity:

  1. On the login screen on your computer, you need to select "I can't use my Microsoft Authenticator app right now" and then "Use a verification code for my mobile app"
  2. Open the Authenticator app on your phone. You should see a six-digit "one-time password code" which refreshes every 30 seconds
  3. Type the six-digit code into the login screen on your computer
  4. Your account should be verified

Ensure you've got unconditional forwarding set (not forward on no reply) then the call will forward immediately with no delay. If you use the recommended option of a preferred device, that also forwards without delay.

  1. click 'call me on the second factor page'
  2. phone rings
  3. pick up the phone
  4. automated message "Thank you for using the Microsoft’s sign-in verification system. Please press the hash key to finish your verification." (you don't actually have to listen to this whole message)
  5. press hash "#" key
  6. login completes / incoming call hangs up

You will have around 30 seconds to press the hash "#" key from the time that you pick up the incoming call (or around 15 seconds to press hash if you choose to listen to the whole message). 

Passwords are handled locally, not by Microsoft, so this link will not work. However, if you forget your password, please click on the 'Reset your Single Sign-On password link'.or go to Reset Password

There are several reasons why this might happen

  • Your login session expired while you were away from your computer. When PCs are left on constantly the session may expire in the middle of the night. Log out, shut down all your browsers at the end of the day, or turn off the PC if this is causing disruption
  • A secondary account you own is being accessed with credentials. Accounts with SSO have to complete MFA when logging in with username/password. Some MFA methods (phone, notifications, text) will automatically contact you once the password has been correctly entered, if they are the default method
  • If you don't think it is either of the above, then a third party is trying to access your account. In this case, you must change the password on your account, go to My Sign Ins > Recent activity and check where the login attempt was made from and then report it to InfoSec

"Pound" is the American equivalent of "hash" - they both refer to the "#" key.

The default language of your browser or computer isn't British English. In a browser, you can change the display language to British English.

On a Mac, you can change the default language to English (UK) by:

  • Opening the Apple menu
  • Select System Preferences
  • Choose 'Language & Region'
  • Click '+' at the bottom of the dialog box
  • Select 'English (UK)' and press 'Add'
  • Drag and drop the language you want to use as default to the top of the list   


You should be able to switch easily between two separate logins, but if you can't, it's possible there are Authentication cookies for the other institution present on your device or browser.

You can keep the logins separate by doing any of the following:

  • Using a different browser for each, such as Firefox for one and Chrome for the other
  • Using a separate browser profile for each login
  • Creating a new user profile on their computer

You've made too many unsuccessful authentication attempts in short time. Quite often, waiting ten minutes and trying again resolves, as this is the amount of time Microsoft will block attempts for. If you still can't access your account after this, contact IT support.

There are several reasons why you might get this error:

  • Cookies and cached content are interfering with your login. Clear your cookies and cache on your browser and try again
  • Cookies are not enabled. you need to enable cookies within the browser (this happens particularly with Safari)
  • You have bookmarked the login page rather than the website you're trying to access. If you try to navigate directly to a login form from a bookmark you can receive stale requests. You need to close the page, navigate to it again and then replace the bookmark with the page's actual URL
  • Multiple copies of the page are open. If you have several login forms open in separate tabs they can cause errors, especially if any of the logins have expired. Close all instances and try again
  • You pressed the back button while the page was still loading. Refresh and try again - you may need to close the browser and re-open it

There are several reasons why this might happen, some of which depend what kind of phone you're using:

  • Notifications are turned off. Check that push notifications are enabled in your phone settings and within the app
  • Android: notifications are set to low priority. Go to App Info > Notifications and adjust the notification priority settings
  • The Authenticator app has crashed. Force close the app and restart phone, then try again
  • You've not got any internet connection. Check your phone signal and Wi-Fi access and move to location with better signal if necessary. Alternatively, you can use the one-time passcodes (TOTPs) generated by the app to login instead by choosing "I'd like to use a different method" at the logins creen on your computer
  • iOS: there are problems with your network connections. If you are able to receive the notification through mobile data but not over Wi-Fi, then the phone's network connections can be reset to fix this: Settings > General > Reset > Reset Network Settings. This will forget all Wi-Fi networks and passwords, mobile settings and VPN/APN
  • The Authenticator app was not actually successfully set up. Go to My Sign Ins using a different MFA method and add the app again as a new method
  • Battery saving features are blocking notifications. Built-in battery apps can stop push notifications from working by shutting down background processes and only processing 'high priority' notifications while the phone is asleep. You need to change the priority of the notifications or turn off these battery saving features

Get support

Local IT support provides your first line of on-the-spot help



Common requests and fault reports can be logged using self-service





The Central IT Service Desk is available 24x7 on +44 1865 6 12345

If you do not have access to your Single Sign-On, you can use this form to contact the Service Desk