Updated with new methods on April 1st, 2015
It's a scary moment when you log into your Facebook Ads account and see the "unusual activity" message at the top of your account...
However, this has happened to me
twice three times over the last 3 years, and I've gotten my account back both all three times. So all is not lost...
First, we need to understand WHY they disabled your account in the first place. Usually, the "unusual activity" message is generated due to a security feature in Facebook's automated system, and is NOT related to your ads themselves. This is to protect your account being used by somebody else and is designed to protect you – although I personally feel Facebook have gone WAY too far with this and it actually does the opposite!
So have you accessed your account from a different location or IP address? Have you paid using PayPal (an unstable payment platform in their eyes) instead of a card payment? Do your payment details match the personal details in your Facebook account? Have you increased your daily ad budget by more than 50% in the last 2 weeks or so? Have you ever used scraping software to grab UIDs?
All of these things and other similar scenarios can trigger this "unusual activity" message.
Next, you need to submit your identification using the link at the end of the "unusual activity" message, making sure to explain that you're always looking to provide a good user experience for their users and always follow their guidelines. Plus, if you figured out why you got the message in the first place, you should clarify that scenario for them, too.
At this stage, you'll usually hear nothing back from Facebook for up to 10 days (yep, they're so understaffed it’s crazy!), and even then, it's often the automated boilerplate response via email that says your account has been permanently disabled and you shouldn't attempt to run ads with Facebook again, yada yada yada.
This means that the Facebook staff still haven’t looked at your identification or actually read anything you wrote on the form, so our next step is to get in a conversation with an actual human being.
To do this, simply submit the form on this page. You need to select the "My ad account" option and explain your situation so far with them, again explaining that you want to provide a good user experience and always follow their guidelines, and you feel their automated system locked you out by mistake, then end your appeal with a question asking if they can reactivate your account.
Your success at this stage really depends on who you speak to. Sometimes they'll reactivate your account there and then, sometimes they'll get somebody in the review team to manually look at your account (later receiving a reactivation email), and sometimes they'll give you a link to another form which goes to somebody in the ads department. But if you get referred to somebody else, it's once again a matter of playing the frustrating waiting game until you get a decision.
The one thing you need to keep in mind through this entire process is to always be honest, polite and calm with the Facebook staff, as losing your cool will get you nowhere and actually do you more harm than good. Just be patient and persevere with another reply if they don't reply within 5 days or so, then you'll eventually get to where you want to be.
IMPORTANT: I cannot stress how important it is to be resilient and persevere patiently if you don't get a response from the Facebook staff, as they are insanely busy and it took me around 3 months to get my account reactivated for the third time (towards the end of March 2015). So always follow up if you don't get a response within 5 days, and if you still don't get a response after the second follow-up, submit the form on this page again and you'll be assigned to a different staff member.
Plus, it's also worth noting that Facebook is just one of the many high-quality PPC traffic sources out there, including Twitter Ads, LinkedIn Ads, Bing Ads, Yahoo Ads, iAds, Google AdWords and more, not to mention the other great methods including solo ads, native advertising (e.g. Taboola), banner advertising, PPV, and a whole lot more. So even if you don’t get the decision you're looking for from Facebook, your business is definitely NOT lost (so end the pity party right now!), as there are still plenty of amazing alternatives you can turn to.
(After all, saying that your business is over because you can’t advertise on Facebook is like saying Microsoft should fold their entire business because just one of their ad campaigns wasn't successful!)
In fact, I encourage you to get started with one of these sources while you wait for the Facebook Ads team to go through the process I've outlined in this post, as it means you can still move forward and grow your business while you wait. Plus having your eggs in more than one basket is always a good thing to do anyway.
Finally, if/when you DO get your Facebook Ads account reactivated, be sure to always read and abide by their guidelines regularly, and always abide by the unwritten "best practices" I mentioned above which may trigger the "unusual activity" message again.
Have a great day!
- James Francis.