Friday, January 8, 2021

My Instagram Account Was Hacked & How I Got It Back

 Wednesday morning I woke up, unplugged my phone from its charger, got back in bed {because goodness knows it has been way too cold}, unlocked my phone, and opened up my Instagram app, which I always stay logged into on my phone, only to discover I was not logged in… I clicked on my account to log back in, and was alerted that the wrong password was saved to my phone. I then tried to manually type in my account username and password, and again, I was alerted that it was the wrong login information. I proceeded to go through the “forgot password” process and when I put in the email associated with the account I was alerted that it was the incorrect email. I then tried my phone number, and again, was alerted that the number I had enter was not the correct number associated with the account. A sense of panic started to rise within…

After attempting to login to my Instagram a couple more times, I moved to my email and started scrolling in search of any emails from Instagram that would have alerted me to any changes made to the account. Lo and behold, at 3:38am Wednesday morning, I had my first email from Instagram to notify me of a new login from a device I don’t usually use, a second email to notify me that the phone number associated with my account had been removed, a third email to alert me that the email associated with my account had been changed, and a final email from Instagram at 3:39am Wednesday morning to inform me that my username had been changed from atouchofsoutherngrace to atouchofoutheiuongoui. Then right above the four emails from Instagram was an email from the person who hacked my account threatening to delete my Instagram account if I didn’t pay them $300.

By this time I was in total panic mode. Here was this Instagram account that I have had for seven years, have built such a wonderful community of followers, acts as an extension of my blog, contributes to some of my income, and so many memories are attached to many of the pictures on the account. Then this hacker comes in, changes all my information within the span of a minute, and I am locked out of my account and cannot reset anything. I was completely devastated, felt so helpless, and had no clue what to do about the situation. I wish I could tell you that I knew how this person gained access to my Instagram, but I have no idea. I hadn’t received any suspicious emails or messages, and haven’t clicked on any suspicious links. I can, however, tell you what to do if you are hacked, how to get your account back in less than two days, and hopefully how to prevent this from happening to you. 


First thing first, don’t go to twitter in a panic and send a tweet out asking for help. Doing this only acts as a beacon for other hackers to take advantage of you. I got directed to so many different accounts that could “help” and all of them were obviously spammers. 


After I finished crying, I started researching via the Instagram help center and everything I came across on reporting a hacked account I reached a dead end because so much of my information had been altered on my account. So, when that didn’t work, I reached out to a few Instagram friends to see if they have ever encountered a similar experience and what steps they took. In the mean time my dad started researching YouTube to see if there were any ‘what to' videos out there. By the end of all the research I tried two tactics, and thankfully had my Instagram account a day and a half later. I’m not sure which one worked so I’m sharing them both.


 Before I explain them though, just know that you have to preform both of these actions multiple times. Instagram is so hard to get ahold of and you have to let them know that you are serious about regaining control of your account/need your account back, and preforming these actions multiple times reflects that and eventually grabs the attention of the Instagram help center.

One Instagram friend had a similar experience a few years ago and pointed me in the direction of messaging Facebook business. Facebook and Instagram are two in the same now, and luckily, I have my Facebook business page and Instagram hooked up to each other so I was able to message Facebook business. When I sent Facebook Business a message I was sent through a series of prompts and at the end I was able to state what the issue was with my Instagram account. Once I sent the message I received an automatic response back saying, “We’re sharing your issue with our support team. If they can provide you with more assistance, they’ll reach out to you”. I preformed this action about four times. {Again, persistence is key when trying to contact Instagram}. 

The second tactic I used was reporting my account had been hacked via an Instagram form. I probably submitted this form about thirty times, literally. Here is how you can submit the Instagram form alerting them to the fact that your account has been hacked and request support. 

Step 1: Using your mobile app, make sure you are logged out of all your Instagram accounts. Then go to main login in page and click on “Forgot password?”

Step 2: Click on “Phone” and enter the phone number that is actually/should be associated with your account {even if it has been removed or altered}. Then click on “Need more help?”

Step 3: Located at the very bottom of the page, click on “I can’t access this email or phone number” 

Step 4: On your request support form enter the email used to create the account and enter a contact email. Then select either “Company or brand account” or “personal account with photos of me” {I alternated between the two each time I filled out the form}. Finally select “My account was hacked” and at the very bottom of the page click on “Request Support”.

*** Remember, you need to fill this form out multiple times to be effective 


I eventually receive an email from Facebook/Instagram with the instructions to send them a photo while I held up a piece of paper with a code, my name, and user name written on it as proof of my identity and owner of the account. A few hours later I received a second email containing a link that allowed me back into my account and I was able to reset all my information and password. 


As far as Instagram hacking prevention goes, I would suggest that you turn on “Two-Factor Authentication” {this can be found by going to your settings and selecting “Security”}. I would also recommend downloading an Authentication app.  The only other advice I would give, which I didn’t think to, is if your account is hacked get your friends, family members, and followers {if they can be contacted} to report your account in an attempt to get your account disabled. This prevents the hacker from having further access to your account. I also learned in my research that a disabled Instagram account can always be recovered, but recovering a deleted Instagram account depends on the roll of the dice. My account was actually deleted by the person who hacked my account and I am so fortunate that Instagram was able to recover everything on my account. 


Below I have attached a YouTube video that was the most helpful to me during this whole process  

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