This post affects over 1 billion Instagram users and it’s one of the saddest posts I had to write because I’m a victim. I used my Instagram account as a major part of my business and income stream. With nearly 150,000 followers, almost 800 posts including photos of myself, my six year old daughter, and our travels, and thousands of hours of relationship building and audience growth, it was hacked and stolen. I was trapped in an automated loop with Instagram, never actually speaking to a human or receiving any help. It was like someone broke into my house and set it on fire, burning it to the ground. Here’s what happen and a list of ways you can protect yourself.
Accounts of all sizes have been victim to these attacks, but there are ways to prevent it from happening. Last year, 6 million Instagram accounts were hacked in just one day. On the same day my Instagram account was hacked, 50 million Facebook accounts were hacked. The numbers continue to rise.
What happened First
On September 25th, I received an email that a Samsung SM-G610F signed into my account. Then I received another email seconds later.
When I tried to reset the password on the link provided, I was directed to a page that said the link wasn’t valid. I tried to log into my account and it said I put in the incorrect password. And so began the loop of automated replies and confusion.
How did this happened?
Someone got my Instagram password. I don’t know how it happened. I don’t use any third-party apps and I’m the only person with the password. Once they had the password, they could see the email and phone number linked to the account. They then used the same password to log into my email account and intercept the emails from Instagram.
Why was this naive on my part?
I should have been using Instagram Two Factor Authentication. Even with my password, the hacker would not have been able to take over the account. I could have stopped the changes from my phone when they were happening. Instead, they not only had access to my Instagram account but also my email to see the notifications from Instagram.
I shouldn’t have used the same password for both my Instagram and my email account. Since I didn’t use third-party apps and I never gave out my password, I assumed no one would ever be able to hack my account. THAT WAS A TERRIBLE ASSUMPTION AND COST ME MY ACCOUNT.
Ways I could have prevented the initial hack:
- Use Instagram Two Factor Authentication. Two-factor authentication is a security feature. If you set up two-factor authentication, you’ll be asked to enter a special login code or confirm your login attempt each time someone tries accessing Instagram from a device we don’t recognize. This is the most important step to preventing a hack.
- Use a different password for your email and your Instagram account. I know this may seem basic or to some people like a hassle, but it’s easier to prevent an attack than it is to get your account back.
After I lost control of the account, I had to secure my other accounts with the same password. It became a race to secure my credit card, my bank accounts, my other social media, and my blogs. I was in a complete panic and the rest of my day was STILL happening around me. I needed to stop time but I couldn’t. So I had to go to the bus stop to pick up Athena and act normal outside; meanwhile, my life was crumbling.
Once I felt like my other accounts were somewhat protected for the moment, I tried to get my account back.
Where do you submit a report on Instagram?
If you no longer have control of your account, go to the Instagram sign-in on your phone, enter your email address associated with the account, and hit forgot password. This will take you to another screen when you can click Submit A Report.
Make sure to use a different contact email for this report so you’re 100% certain the hacker hasn’t compromised that account as well.
In the additional details, include your Instagram username, email connected to the account, phone number connected to the account, and what type of phone (iPhone, Android, etc). Also include the time of the hack and the last time you had access to the account.
Why I didn’t get my account back
It’s been a week of submitting reports to Instagram and trying to contact someone to save my account. I have yet to hear from an actual human from Instagram, despite multiple attempts via their official form. All I receive is a loop of automated replies that eventually say the issue has been resolved. I can only assume that the hacker used my email to trick the Instagram automated machines into giving complete control of my account to them. After submitting yet another report to Instagram, it says the issue has been resolved. YES, THE ISSUE WAS RESOLVED FOR THE HACKER. If I could have spoken to a person at Instagram, this could have been prevented before all of my content was deleted.
I watched post after post be deleted from my account but there was nothing I could do about it. I watched 7 years of my life go up in flames as I stood by helpless. I can still see the account, but they’ve deleted all of my photos, changed all of the information, and deleted most of the people I was following. It has lost more than 40,000 followers and yet it’s still not in my possession. At this point, even if I get the account back, so much is lost.
How to Rebuild
I started to rebuild and I’m at least thankful that I can still use the name Bucket List Publications. I had a smaller account started for Athena so I changed the name and I’m now using that as my main account. I went from 147,000 followers and seven years of posts and connections to nothing.
What you can do to help
This issue is globe. It is worldwide and it could happen to you. Please share this post, tell your friends, and make sure to add Instagram Two Factor Authentication to your account so it doesn’t happen to you.
Also, follow me along on the new Bucket List Publications Instagram account too. Join us as we rebuild even bigger and better.