Niantic is putting the smackdown on Pokemon Go cheaters , so it's important to know what can get you banned and what you can do if you are banned so you don't lose your beloved pocket monsters.
How not to get banned
The quick and easy answer is to not do anything that is against the Terms of Service that you agreed to when signing up for the game. No one actually reads those, though, so you're probably still iffy on the rules.
The biggest no-no that Niantic is cracking down on is bot activity. Both creators of bots to alter the game and people using them are getting lifetime bans.
Anything that spoofs your location and tricks your phone's GPS so that you can hatch eggs faster or capture location-specific Pokemon may also get you banned.
Niantic also says that "using emulators" may also get you a lifetime ban. An example of an emulator is something that lets you play Pokemon Go on a computer or laptop instead of in the app.
Basically, stay away from any third-party app or software that needs to connect to the game in any way, just to be safe.
How to get unbanned
First, you need to figure out if you have really been banned. The first sign is you won't be able to log in to the game. Next, Niantic will send you an email stating that you have been banned.
Some players are reporting getting banned even though they didn't do anything against the Terms of Service. So, even if you're sure you didn't do any of the above and the servers must be down, check your email inbox, just in case.
Some people aren't banned permanently. These "soft bans" typically last a few hours and you won't get a letter. Many are reporting that these mini bans are from going too fast while playing the game.
If you get the ban hammer for no reason, there's really only one thing you can do. Go to the Pokemon Go website and submit a ban appeal. It typically takes Niantic a couple of weeks to respond to requests, but an appeal is your only shot at reuniting with your Pikachu.
Here's the email I was sent after submitting an appeal for research. Everyone gets this letter if they submit an appeal, even if your account isn't banned.