In case you found me MIA on Instagram, I had been hacked!
On 19th October morning I received a DM from a genuine-looking Instagram account called the ‘Instagram Help Centre’ Mind you, this was a very genuine looking account, and the hacker was pretending to be an Instagram team member, informing me my Instagram account was selected to get the blue tick verification!
As you can see from the screenshot below, the message looked quite legit, and they had asked me to fill a form with basic details.
I then received a WhatsApp message asking for the 2-factor code I received to verify that my account is mine so that they can add the blue tick to my account within 24 hours, he also mentioned not to change any details on my account till then. This to me felt a bit weird.. so I tried to check my account, I was shocked… I got kicked out of my own account and was unable to log in!
I freaked out and confronted the hacker and he was asking me to provide my Gmail password, I quickly blocked him. And immediately went to change my password on Gmail so he doesn’t have access to my details.
Remember to first calm down, and that you can get your account back with the proper steps. Block all communications with the hacker, do not communicate with them and do not get another hacker to help you with this, all hackers are criminals, keep that in mind!
What I did to Recover my account on Instagram.
I then quickly went to Instagram and clicked on:
1. Forgotten password
2. After Entering my email address and click next
3. I clicked on Request support below
4. Once you click on request support, click on my account was hacked and fill in the request form mentioning your details for the tech team to get back to you.
5. Once you submit your request, you should receive an auto-response email from the Security Team at Instagram asking you to help them verify your identity. You’ll be asked for one or both of the following:
- A photo of yourself holding a paper with a handwritten code we’ve provided you.
- The email address or phone number you signed up with and the type of device you used at the time of sign up (example: iPhone, Android, iPad, other).
After you submit your verification details, you should receive an email with a link to login, unfortunately in my case, the tech team was still using the hacker’s username instead of mine (The hacker had changed all my details)
I immediately logged in using the link sent to me (despite the username being wrong) and I noticed my display image was removed, my username on display was changed and all the settings were changed. Which meant no one was able to search for my account they get a message saying they need to be (99 years old to view my account)!
6. First thing I did as I was able to login (despite my details were wrong) I quickly re-activated my 2 factor code and changed my password.
7. I now had to change the minimum age on my account, since no one was able to search for me unless they were 99 years of age! You can either add a minimum age or remove any restrictions on age and country.
8. Once I removed the minimum age restriction, my friends were able to see me, but were still unable to search for me manually on Instagram since my user name was still the hackers changed username.
9. I clicked on edit profile and tried to change back my username but was unable to as Instagram had a restriction of 14 days to change back to my orignial username. So I changed it to the closest username which was from @sarashafni to @sarahshafni (Added a H)
10. After adding back my display image and informed all my followers on my story that my account was hacked (most of them would assume you have blocked them because they wont be able to see your account). So make sure to inform your followers on your story that your account was hacked.
Now, I know this blog post may seem long, but trust me this will help you. Because the one thing I realized when I was desperate and was in trouble, was that the Instagram/Facebook tech team did very little to help.
I had to research and figure this all out myself..was a very highly stressful situation and would never wish on this on anyone… These hackers are cowards, their jobless, and especially during this covid period you can see a massive increase in cybercrimes. There is a major hacking spree going on on Instagram and anyone can fall victim to this. These hackers keep changing their scenarios and target growing and popular accounts.
A quick guide below to help you protect your account.
- Activate your 2-factor code and do not share this with anyone, even if someone from your loved one’s account is requesting this.
- Do not click on any suspicious links, even links that look genuine always double-check them on https://www.psafe.com/dfndr-lab/ to see if these links are safe.
- Keep updating your Instagram application for the latest security updates
- Protect your email, keep changing passwords every couple of months
- Do not use the same password on all your other social media.