Imagine losing access to your Instagram account.
An account that you might have spent many years and many dollars on building up, possibly with hundreds of thousands of followers, only to have it taken over by someone else. Your Instagram has been hacked.
You’d be pretty gutted.
And unfortunately, we see this happening all too often lately, and it’s usually because one of the account owners accidentally hands over the username and password.
Why do Instagram accounts get hacked?
There are many potential motives for hacking a social media account. These may include:
- To sell them onto someone else
- To spread spam or propaganda
- To extort the account owner for money
- To delete them
And as seen in the 2016 US Presidential Election, stolen Instagram accounts can even be used to exert influence in the political sphere!
How do Instagram accounts get hacked?
There are people out there who specifically setup accounts for the purpose of trying to hack into other social media profiles. These accounts then send direct messages to your Instagram profile that look as though they are very official:
For the uninitiated, this looks like a legitimate message from Instagram Support. When the link is clicked, a login screen opens, and the user is prompted to re-enter their login information.
And just like that, your username and password has been gifted to the hackers.
How can I prevent my Instagram from being hacked?
There are a few things that you can do to protect your Instagram account:
1. Enable 2-Factor Authentication on your Instagram account NOW.
This means that anytime an unknown device tries to login to the account they are prompted to enter a 6-digit code that is randomly generated within a separate app on your phone or sent to you via text. We’ve got a helpful blog with some instructions for you to do this: Setup two-factor authentication.
2. Never click links through DMs or emails.
This is a classic method of phishing that has been around for a long time. Just like your bank would never contact you via email to confirm your account details, social media giants like Instagram aren’t going to contact you via direct message. Also, if you look closely at the screenshot above, I hardly think Instagram would address you as “Hello dear Instagram user”, and their account name is “Support for business” – no mention of Instagram in the username, and they didn’t capitalise the B in business.
3. Make sure you use a strong password.
This seems to be an obvious one… but have a strong password and make it different to those that you have for other accounts.
And if you have been hacked and you use the same password on your Instagram as you do on any other accounts (naughty!), go and change those passwords IMMEDIATELY. Like, right now.
What can I do if my Instagram account has been hacked?
Unfortunately regaining access to your account isn’t always an easy road. We’ve seen this take weeks sometimes, and we’ve also seen people fail.
Instagram does have a support email: firstname.lastname@example.org
But you’re unlikely to get a fast or human response through that channel. Instagram has over 1 billion users worldwide. Even if each of us only contacted the support email once a year, that’s around 273,972 support requests per day!
Instagram does have a very robust help centre online that you can search through: https://help.instagram.com/
But here are some specific steps you can take if your Instagram has been hacked:
- Check the email that’s linked to your Instagram account – if you have an email from Instagram letting you know that your email address was changed, you may be able to reverse this change.
- Get a login link sent to your email – if you can’t login, try sending a login link to your email address or phone number by clicking on ‘Forgot password?’ on the login screen.
- Request a security code from Instagram – Depending on which Instagram app you’re using (iPhone or Android), you’ll need to click the Get help logging in / Need more help Once you enter your email or phone number, you can opt to have a security code sent to you and then follow the instructions from there!
- Verifying your identity – If all else fails, Instagram (via the Support Team at Facebook) may request for you to verify your identity by sending a photo of yourself holding a piece of paper with a handwritten code that they’ve provided you. They’ll then check this photo of you against the photos on your Instagram profile to verify that it is you. They could also ask you the email address or phone number you used to sign up for the account originally, and the device you would have done this on.
If you’ve lost account access, you’re going to need to be patient as sometimes recovering access to the account can take time. With the prevalence of this activity in 2020, the support teams at these social media giants have their hands full with responding to support requests.
But no matter whether you have 100 followers or 100,000, we know this can be an unsettling experience. If you need any help or advice, feel free to get in touch via our Contact Page and we’ll try to help if we can*.
*Unfortunately we do not have a direct phone number to Instagram so we can’t work instant magic to recover access to your hacked Instagram account, but we can certainly provide calm advice and will help where we can…. 😉