Yes, my Instagram was hacked. Though, initially, I did not know it was happening. Saturday, the 28th, I was putting my phone on the charging dock before going upstairs to get ready for Sunday. I wanted to comment on an IG post that I’d seen earlier in the day. I was talking when I saw the IG login screen and so I swiped, the screen did not correct. Someone must have used my phone. I got my ipad. I tapped the IG icon, again a login screen. Then, I got my password book and I tried to login. Username not found, was the message that appeared. Then I tried my email, same thing. This made me stop multitasking, IG had my attention. My first thought, if my IG login is not found, then what is on my blog? Because of the relief I felt when I saw my familiar photos on the IG scroll at the bottom of my blog homepage, it took me a moment to realize that my IG was hacked. The moment I felt relief was the same moment it registered that my profile photo and username had been replaced. I had to sit down. After asking my husband and daughter to check their devices to see if they were seeing what I was seeing (they were) I knew there was a problem.
My daughter reported the problem through her IG account and did the same for her dad on his IG account. I now know that their reporting was the equivalent of throwing two grains of sand to quell an inferno. My husband, bless his heart, told me that I needed to call the Instagram Help Center. By this time, I’d read enough online to know that the IG Help Center is a unicorn. I am sharing my experience and what I learned. I hope it prevents the same from happening to you or that you have tips in the event that it does.
First – If you have Instagram and you do not have two-factor authentication on it, stop reading and do it now. In fact, you may want to check all of your accounts, especially banking and ones that have credit card information attached to them. Some banks and financial companies require two-factor authentication and some just offer it. Hacking an IG account is relatively easy and the goal is not the IG account. The hacked IG account is a porthole to other accounts via your email. I did not have two-factor authentication on my IG account. As a result it was easy for a hacker (or bot) to switch my username by sending a forgot email, or forgot login details.
Second – Secure the email used when you signed up for Instagram. Ultimately, this is where the hacker (or bot, or hackbot is headed). If your email does not have two-factor authentication, do it now. Also, change your password. Whatever email you have, there is usually a link, on the account information page, to view recent activity. When I clicked mine I could see the hackbots were full throttle. Hackbots at locations around the world tried and some accessed my account. It is at this point that hackbots can use your account to send spam and phishing emails to your contacts. This is also the point where they can get banking, insurance and any information that comes through your email account. Remember, once the hacker has your email, it is easy to trail your email destination and input forgot password, change password and engage in all kinds of mayhem. This is a rationale for having more than one email account. It is also the reason why logins and passwords should be different for all of your accounts. On this front, in my favor, is my reluctance to leave my credit card number on file when I make online purchases. You have to diligently look for the opt-out prompt to not have your credit card information stored, when making purchases. It is getting smaller and smaller. Another plus in my favor is that I do not have my credit card number on my mobile phone. My hacked IG might have been a headache, but the google sites of hacked mobile phones with credit cards put it in perspective.
Third – If your username was deleted you may be able to create a new IG account with it using another email address. On the bottom of the Instagram page, trying signing up with a different email and the original username. I did this and I was able to reclaim my deleted username. This was important to me because not knowing whether or not I could get Weptanomah back as my username gave me stress and tears.
Fourth – Report what happened to Instagram. There are two ways to do this. I did both, multiple times. There are loads of sites with instructions on how to report a hacked account to instagram. If you are using a lap or desktop this or this will help. If you are using a mobile device, this will help. I looked at youtube videos too.
Fifth – It has been a week since my IG was hacked. After many emails to Instagram, I received one email from Facebook with instructions to send original information about my account as well as a photo, showing both of my hands holding a paper with the information about my account written on it. I have not heard anything since that email. Based on what I have learned online, I may or may not hear something. I have also received email alerts from a few companies that someone was trying to access my account. When this happened I made changes, such as deleting all of my account information with the site, changing the email, or adding another layer of security.
Finally, since I was able to reclaim my username I will start a new IG account. Though I have relaxed my hourly emails to the Instagram Help Center, I have not given up trying to get access to my old account. I will update if I do. In the meantime, my hope is that this information prevents someone from having the same experience or gives help if it happens.
My hijacked IG page