Your Instagram got hacked. Now what?
A hacked Instagram account is a very scary scenario for any user. And it can be particularly destructive to influencers who have made full time careers out of their social media accounts. Their personal brand, followers they’ve worked hard to gain, and hundreds of memorable photos could be at stake. And according to many victims, Instagram's process of regaining control of your account is rather complicated.
Although hacking is a growing problem, Instagram doesn’t provide an easy solution. Once you’ve gotten over the initial shock of having your Instagram account overtaken, the social media platform sends you through loops with an automated recovery system.
How Instagram’s Process Works
Instagram points you here to its help center. Currently, this is the only way to contact Instagram for help.
If your Instagram is hacked, it’s not easy to get back in. Since there’s no phone number to call, you’ll have to submit a support ticket through Instagram’s help center. And it turns out that Instagram’s instructions don’t always work. The help center sends you through a list of actions you can take to take back your hacked account, but the hardest part is getting a real person to read the messages you’ve submitted.
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Multiple victims have reported difficulty contacting Instagram support to report a hack. After finding themselves stuck in a loop talking to help center bots, some victims have even resorted to hiring white hatters (hackers that do good) to regain access to their accounts. Others have paid their hackers hundreds of dollars in ransom money (usually demanded in bitcoin or another untraceable method) to get their accounts back. Neither of these scenarios would be necessary if Instagram had a reliable procedure for hacked accounts.
One victim even said the entire help center process went smoothly, until at the last step when Instagram sent the verification code to the very hackers that stole the account.
Signs You’ve Been Hacked
Here are a few telltale signs that someone has access to your account.
The Email Associated With the Account Has Been Changed. If you check your email and receive a message from Instagram saying the email associated with your account has been changed, you may be able to revert the change. If not, you’ll need to contact Instagram support and begin their procedure for hacked accounts.
If the email associated with the account is changed, you may be able to revert it back. But that’s only if the hacker has left all other information untouched (which is highly unlikely). Typically, once a hacker has access to an account, they change all information associated with it.
You No Longer Have Access to Your Account. When you try to login, you can’t access your account. Instagram says your password is incorrect, but you’re certain it’s not. This is a sign that someone has accessed your account and has changed the password.
Instagram Sends an Alert. When Instagram detects a login or login attempt from a new area or device that isn’t yours, it sends an alert to your email documenting the suspicious activity. If you catch it in time, you should change the information associated with your account (especially your password).
Your Account is Following and Liking Images of People You Don’t Know. If your account is engaging in suspicious activity you didn’t initiate, someone may have access to your account.
How to Avoid Being Hacked
Use these tips to further protect your Instagram account.
Don’t Use Your Login on Other Sites. Don’t use your Instagram log in for anything other than your actual Instagram account. Be careful when authorizing third-party app and watch out for spoofed domains or phishing schemes that might be lingering in your inbox.
Keep Your Password Confidential. Never give your password or login information to anyone you don’t trust.
Change Your Password Often. It should be different from any other passwords you use elsewhere. Make sure you have a strong password including numbers, letters, and symbols.
Enable Two-Factor Authentication. Instagram’s Two-Factor Authentication can add an extra layer of protection. But beware; it’s not completely foolproof. Even if you have two-factor authentication, your Instagram is still at risk of being hacked. In other words, two-factor authentication is a mess.
Instagram includes its own list of security tips to help keep your account safe.
While having your Instagram hacked is out of your control, there are steps you can take to keep your account safe. Use these tips as a cautionary guide to protect your Instagram account from hackers.