real talk: i got hacked on instagram--this is how i got my account back
Truthfully, up until I got my Instagram hacked, I never really thought about it. This hadn’t happened to anyone in my feed or anyone I knew, so it was never something that was top of mind for me unlike, say, getting my credit card number stolen. [And in that case, I know exactly what I’d do. I go into my Bank of America app, contact them directly, and freeze my card.] But when my Instagram got hacked, I realized I had absolutely no idea what to do.
So I’m writing this post in hopes that if ever a blogger’s worst nightmare comes true (and I pray that it doesn't) that this could help you. When I didn’t know where to turn or what to do, my google searches eventually lead me to a blogger’s post similar to this, and that was how I managed to unlock my account.
Here’s what happened-
On a Friday morning, I woke up and eventually made my way to Instagram. Upon opening the app, an in product pop up said there was suspicious activity on my account-an attempted log in around 7:36AM- and asked me to verify if the activity was me. 7:36 AM was before I had woken up so I clicked ‘not me’. It then prompted me to change my password to secure my account. So I did. And then I was able to log into my Instagram.
On Friday afternoon, I posted a photo to Instagram like usual- no issues or complications. I was in and out of the app responding to comments about an hour after posting, when I went to open the app again and realized I was signed out. I tried to to type in my password (the new one I set in the morning) and that wouldn’t work. I also clicked ‘forgot password’ on the log-in page and realized that the email to which the account was linked was no longer mine. Same thing with my phone number. Additionally, my friends starting sending me screenshots of my page where my name was changed to “Chad” and my username was changed to something indiscernible.
At that moment I realized I had been hacked. [I have to admit, I’d say I’m a pretty tech savvy person. I work in tech and would credit myself for being able to discern what's suspicious, unsafe, or a fraud. But this hack was on a whole new level-an in product agenda. Very very clever.]
I got so scared because all of my work- photos, stories, followers, communities- were no longer in my control and my biggest fear was that I’d lose it all. I have worked so hard to create the content I share with you all on Instagram, I had to force myself to think positively, otherwise I was going to lose my mind.
Here’s what I did-
- There is a way that Instagram supports [or tries to support] users when this happens. You can fill in a form in app detailing what occured. You can find all of that info in this YouTube video I found while frantically Google searching. I did this, however, doing that, just puts you in what I can only imagine is the longest queue, waiting to get a response back from Facebook. And since I’m neither Michelle Obama nor a brand that spends $XM on Facebook, after 4 days passed [YES FOUR FREAKING DAYS] and I heard nothing back, I quickly realized I wouldn’t be hearing back anytime soon. [I’ll be honest with you all, I even had a friend who works at Instagram submit an internal ticket for me [thank you!!]….and still nothing. At least, not before I figured out number 2! Keep reading!]
- When someone changes your password, email address, or phone number, Instagram sends you an email to alert you of this change- to your original email address! [So yes, even when the hacker changes the email address on file, you will receive it!] At the very bottom of this email it states if the action wasn’t you, you can click a link to revert the change! BINGO! Here’s the trick though-THIS EMAIL WAS SITTING IN MY SPAM FOLDER. [Yes, even though I get all the god damn emails about xyz posting photos or updating statuses straight to my inbox, the ONE email I want to read about recovering my account went to my spam -_-] So check your SPAM folder! [I didn’t know to do this until after reading another blogger’s post!] From there I was able to change my password, email address and phone number back!
- Turn on 2 Factor Authentication! This is CLUTCH (and now I literally have it on everything!) I know to some of you this may seem a little extreme or even complicated, but it’s really not. It basically ensures that the person logging in is YOU (by requiring the individual to input something you know (password) and something you have (like a code that is text to you). Pretty simple. It’ll make hacking virtually impossible. In the Instagram app, go to your profile, click the settings gear (next to the ‘edit profile’ button), scroll down to “privacy and security” and click two-factor authentication.
Whether you came here in desperate panic to figure out how to get back into your Instagram (bless you, I hope its over soon!) or just want to make sure this doesn’t happen to you- I truly hope this post was helpful!
Photos by: Brandon Nesbitt