My Instagram got hacked! How to prevent it from happening to you.
Here’s the story of what happened and how I got my account back:
It was a calm Friday morning and I was just wrapping up some emails before I took the weekend off. I was overly caffeinated and ready to just power through my inbox. I received one email in particular which I had been avoiding because the link to their page hadn’t been working. Which is normally an Immediately red flag.
The email said “Hi Francesca, I work for ____ and we would love to pay you for advertising on your social media. What is your rate for a sponsored post? ” The interesting thing is that the brand they mentioned and linked to was actually a real brand that totally fit my style.
Before I go on, there are a few things to note if you receive an email for a brand collaboration. Two things that make them legit :
1. They have a good email tag at the end of the email. For example:
“Kelly Kapoor (name)
Customer Service at Dunder Mifflin (what she does/who she is),
…Followed by a link to her site.”
(Obviously, I have been watching too much of “The Office”.)
2. All the links should work and lead you to their sites.
Neither one of these were present and, yet I still tried to respond. A lot of times I simply do not reply to these emails, because I don’t take them seriously if they don’t have that info. I blame it on the excess amounts of coffee and my need to multi-task like a psycho through this day. Maybe it was the fact that I was rushing myself through work that day, that I was trying to be nice and thought I should see if maybe it was just an intern who didn’t know what she was doing or something. I let her know the email wasn’t working and she immediately sent me another link saying “oh so strange, here it is. We would like the advertisement to look like this”. When I clicked on the link, it sent me to a page that looked just like Instagrams login page. Same exact layout, colors, everything. It prompted me to log in. Now, I was very confused as I had logged in earlier that day. I had however been at a coffee house earlier working from there and thought maybe it was because I was on a different wifi. I logged in. You can guess what happened next. DUH.
The lesson of the month: pay attention to your work and take your time on important things! I instantly got an email from Instagram saying that my Instagram email had been changed. My heart sank and the caffeine suddenly felt too much as I felt my heart pound out of my chest. I immediately tried to see if my account was still there. NOPE all gone. My account was completely wiped. For someone who had put years of work into growing her account, endless hours of building a community, seeing it all go away with just a click on a link was pretty heartbreaking. Just to have someone hugely impact and potentially affect my livelihood (someone I didn’t even know) was heartbreaking and made me furious. I immediately screenshotted the email because I noticed the username was changed and wanted to make sure I had a record of that new username and new email address that I saw it was changed to. I looked for that username on Instagram to see if I could figure anything out but, no luck. All blank non-existent users.
Within seconds I received an email from my hacker using a separate email saying (in badly written English) that he had my account and wants $300 dollars through BitCoin to give it back to me. Otherwise, they would delete everything! I was not going to pay him as I had done my research and saw that Instagram could possibly get my account back to me but it could take weeks, even months before they responded to me. After hours of trying to contact Instagram, emailing every single contact I knew to see if someone had an insider email, I came across an article. This girl mentioned she had the same exact thing happen to her, only she DID pay the hackers. Within an hour, she got her account back. So I thought… every moment counts with Instagram. I had contracts signed and was worried the brands I had promised work to would bow out and not trust me if they saw my page no longer existed. I thought, what the heck. My Instagram is worth way more than $300 so it seemed worth the gamble. I decided to pay them. Ladies and Gents, this DID NOT work. The whole weekend went by and I was sure I would not get my account back.
I had changed all and every single password from my bank accounts to my gmails just to make sure everything was secure. I even created a separate Gmail accountl to write Instagram from in case my original email had been compromised. I also used my original account name on a new IG account just to make sure no one would steal it during the process of my recovery phase. On Monday, IG finally responded. I sent them proof of all the emails (although I have read that normally it is a very annoying process of sending in photos of yourself holding codes they give you). They also asked for a new uncompromised email to send me an Instagram password reset link and what I believed my username had been switched to. I had both the new username they may have used (although I could not find it on Instagram… they probably changed it twice) and the email I saw they switched my email to. One day later, I was sent a new login link to the new email I made and I finally was able to log in, change my password and my old IG was officially back with all my followers, photos and original information still intact. A huge weight was lifted and Immediately felt relief.
Strangely enough, the hackers emailed me around the same time with a password to login into my IG, but by then it had already been reset for me by Instagram. I do not know if that password would have worked or if they simply saw that my email had been reset and tried to reel me back in. Either way, the lesson I learned is to be patient and trust that IG will eventually respond and will most likely have all the info saved for you.
I believe I was extremely lucky in getting their help so quickly. It could have been because I was obsessed and emailed them all weekend long or just luck? I have heard it could take a very long time, but that most of the time the victims of these hackings do get their account back.
Here are some things to do to make sure your account doesn’t get hacked:
- ENABLE two-step verification (Settings > Two-Factor Authentication > Require Security Code)
2. If you get your account hacked send in your info through their help center HERE.
3. Make sure your password is different from your email and change it frequently.
4. Spread the word through social media. I used my new account to ask my other blogger friends to please spread the word. This way I had a lot of reposts of people tagging Instagram (which may have helped). Mostly because I had lots of advice and support from other people who also had gone through the same thing in the past.
5. Most importantly: slow down, read your emails carefully and make sure its a legit Instagram login page whenever you log in! When I look back at the URL that was fake, I realized that Instagram login link was actually Insapgran.ru and not INSTAGRAM.com.Embarrassing to admit, but it’s true that my eyes played a very bad trick on me. Just taking my time and taking a closer look at the URL would have made the difference here. This is a pretty common thing that has been happening to a lot of people lately within the past few months.
Hope this is helpful! If your Instagram is hacked, please stay calm and practice patience! Most likely you will recover your account, it is just a waiting game.
Thanks for reading guys!