Words you hope to never say, “Instagram account hacked.” It honestly still gives me goosebumps not because Instagram is everything- because it's not by any means but because I felt so violate and I've worked hard to create an audience I love. You'll understand more as I explain below. It's been almost 3 weeks. I wanted to share my story right away once I got my account back but I was a little traumatized still- ok maybe a lot and the hacker was still trying to contact me and get into my account the next day. I needed some time for things to settle before sharing everything.
Instagram Account Hacked…
So it all started at night. I should have been in bed and I wasn't. I had been up past 11 finishing up some things. I have said this before and it really rings true more than ever but nothing good happens late at night! Or at least when you're trying to actually use your brain. It's so easy to miss things and not actually see the writing on the wall so to speak. That's what happened to me.
I was scrolling through my Instagram DM's and then once I had answered all the messages in the inbox I went to the message requests. These are the messages you get when someone has never messaged you before. I saw one from Instagram. I was intrigued and clicked on it to read. Now I have to stop here before I go any further. I normally never just scroll my phone that late- really! If anything it's because I'm working on something on my computer or I'm nursing a baby. 🙂 So I should have just set my phone down. I remember feeling so tired and just wanting to go to bed but then getting sucked in.
Anyways, below you will find the message that I got. It looked legit when I was reading it. They told me I was going to get my account shut down because of copyright infringement…something to that extent. I clicked their account and it had the blue check mark and over 10K users, and it was set to private. Looking back the privacy setting should have been a red flag. Reading it when I was fresh and after it all happened I realized how there were so many signs that it was fraud but like I said I was tired and not thinking straight. Even in the message, the wording didn't really make sense after reading it again and there were some errors. Things I wouldn't expect from Instagram. I'm just emphasizing the tired part because I think sometimes we can avoid things when we just wait and not do anything drastic. I wished I wouldn't have clicked on the link inside that message. I had thought initially I should have my hubs look at this. He's always my safeguard and really can help see fraudulent things pretty quickly. But he was sleeping and in my mind I was panicking after I read it and thought my account was going to get shut down the next day as they had said. So I didn't want to waste any time.
After I clicked on the link it basically restated that I had violated some copyright infringement and to click next. That's what did it. Whatever link it was stole all my information. I didn't put anything in. The next slide asked for my email password which I didn't give because that's when it started to seem sketchy. I quickly just closed out of it. Not realizing they had just received my information. Then when I went back to get into it, my account was gone. They had gone in and changed all the information. My username was no longer gurlgonegreen, but something totally different. The email was changed, everything. I couldn't even find it on Instagram.
The Aftermath Of Instagram Account Hacked…
I didn't even tell my hubs until the next day. I woke up to a text message from the hacker asking if I wanted my account back. You can see it below. He wanted money for the account. This was the creepiest part. I felt violated knowing someone had my phone number and could contact me about it. My hubs started to communicate with him. His idea was more to get the guy to stall. We didn't want to pay him. But then my hubs thought maybe we should try it after getting some feedback from different lawyers and tech friends. I just didn't feel good about paying the hacker though. After talking my hubs agreed. It wasn't about the money but more about the idea that we were going to be perpetuating this. If we paid him, then he's going to think he can keep doing this. I don't want this to happen to anyone.
My hubs went into full investigator mode and started to do anything and everything to try and get it back. We first tried Instagram. We submitted probably close to 500 claim emails. We went to Instagram Help Center, then Privacy and Safety Center and then report something. It's there that you can choose from things you want to report. Hacked accounts is an option. Like I said, we emailed them A LOT! My hubs stayed up every night just sending emails to anyone he found online connected to Instagram or Facebook. We kept getting a message back saying that they couldn't help me because my account was deleted. We kept asking the hacker if he deleted my account and he said no, he froze it. After talking to several tech guys that deal with security, they can't actually delete it and most of them don't. Even if it is deleted Instagram saves content for at least 30 days so they could totally get it back for you. So I wasn't too nervous about it being deleted.
I had people share some names and emails with me of people at Facebook. They said they had helped them get their account back right away when it was stolen. I emailed them- multiple times, nothing.
I waited and waited. Meanwhile the hacker kept text messaging and calling me. It was the worst part. My hubs at one point acted like he was going to pay him just to keep him stalled because he kept saying he would delete my account or sell it. You can see more text messages below. We found out the hacker was from Turkey. My hubs actually talked to him in the very beginning on the phone because he had wanted to call us. I also had gotten an email right before my account was hacked saying that someone had logged in from Turkey. So that's how I knew.
We continued to research and try to figure what we could do. After looking at some YouTube videos online, reading blog posts about other's getting hacked my hubs and I decided try and get Instagram's attention by basically swarming Instagram all at one time with a post that others could re-post. We had read that this helped a lot of blogger's regain their account back because Instagram took notice when they had a large amount of people saying the same thing and tagging them. My hubs also had researched to find out all the heads of Instagram too so they could be tagged. We were trying to do anything we could think of. My friend Lisa from This Organic Girl was so awesome and shared the post with her followers. People had been asking her where I had gone and she had updated everyone. People started to post on their feed and in their stories. It was so amazing to see so many people band together and share the post. If anything this whole thing happening really restored my faith in humanity. I've never had so many people email me, ask about me and show me support. If you're reading this and you were one of those people I want to thank you from the bottom of my heart. It meant SO much!
How I Got My Instagram Account Back…
After my friend shared the post, we waited and waited and still nothing. I was starting to lose hope. Then my friend Brooke told me about a girl who she follows who had her account hacked as well and she recovered it. She said she wasn't able to give out the the person's info. who had helped her but she had linked to another blog who had received help from a media consultant in Columbia. His contact info. she could give out and it was listed in the blog post. You can read the full blog post here from Lavenda's Closet. However, once I looked for him on Instagram I wasn't able to find him. Then my hubs started to search for him on the WhatsApp since that is international. He found him and messaged him asking if he could help us and that we would pay him.
He responded a couple hours later and said he could help us. He asked for information. From when it happened, what was our previous password for Instagram, email we used to open the account, how it was hacked, I don't remember every question but that was the extent. He was working with my hubs during this process. Once he saw where they were from he said that he's dealt with them in the past. That they weren't good guys and you should never pay them because they won't give you your account back. He was so nice and kind through the whole process and very efficient. Answered all our questions.
He got my account back up and running within 30 minutes! I remember I was making Christmas cookies with my girls downstairs and my hubs comes down and shows me my account- I basically lost it! Happy tears and relief. Part of me couldn't believe it. It had taken him literally no time to get it back. I had not had my account for 2 1/2 days which definitely isn't that long at all. Some accounts I've read lost their account for a couple weeks. I was so thankful to get it back when I did.
We asked Juan if we could give out his information and he said yes. Here is his Instagram account here. He has a link in his profile on there to take you to WhatsApp. We wanted to be able to help anyone going through something similar. I wished I would have known he was available sooner. We paid him generously because I wanted him to know how much it meant and I think it got his attention to help us. He gets a lot of inquiries! He didn't ask for payment until after he had fully restored my Instagram, unlike the hackers who asked for money first. He told us he's inundated with messages so if you really want your account back I would make sure you mention that you are willing to pay him. It depends on how much your account is worth to you. Money talks! He is a white hack hacker- meaning a good hacker. There are black hat hackers- they're the bad ones.
I wanted to share some tips in hopes that it can help anyone who is in a similar situation or know's someone who is.
Instagram Account Hacked Tips-
- Make sure Two Factor Authentication is turned on. Yes, mine was turned on and still got hacked but it's the best safety card at the moment that Instagram is offering.
- Don't click on any links you're not sure about, whether they're in your DM's, email, etc.- if you don't know them don't click on them. After reading many hacked stories people said that Instagram will never contact you through DM's but they will email you directly if there is a problem.
- Have someone else read something before making any decisions. Often just getting a second set of eyes on something can help decide if it is fraudulent or not. They might pick up on something you wouldn't.
- Change your Instagram password monthly. I've read more content on getting hacked now than I would have ever liked and one of the ways to secure your account is to change your password monthly. Make sure it's long too and make sure you don't use it for anything else.
- Make sure your email is secure. Since most things are connected to our email if someone was to get into email they could get into other accounts. So make sure you have the guardrails set up there too. If you want to make sure Instagram is safe and secure I would make sure your email account is secure too.
- Anytime you use a shared computer or phone make sure you log out of Instagram. If you don't someone could easily gain access to your password.
- Beware of emails that look like they're from Instagram as well and have a link to login to your account. If you login in with your email and password that's how they get your info. Always check the validity of your emails.
- Check for legitimacy of Instagram accounts. You can always find out more about an Instagram account and to see if it's legit by clicking on their profile and tapping the about this account. It will share with you when it was started, where it was started, accounts it follows, and usernames it's used which is helpful in weeding out hacker accounts.
- Check your email right away if you get hacked. If your account did get hacked, the first thing to do is go to your email and look for an email from Instagram saying your email has been changed. Often I read if you catch it quick enough you can reverse it by clicking the revert change button in the email.
- Don't give up! I actually had so much hope after reading so many stories of people getting their accounts back. It's possible.
I hope this Instagram account hacked post was helpful! If you have currently been hacked, I'm so sorry you're having to go through this. I don't wish this on anyone. But reach out to Juan. He truly was a God send and so helpful.
If you're new here, check out some of my regular blog post content below: