As most of you know last Tuesday my Instagram account was hacked. This was honestly so terrifying and frightening because it happened so quickly and easily. I had seen other people’s accounts get hacked before, but always thought “not me; I won’t fall for that.” It is crazy how easy it is to be hacked. I was so scared I would lose 12 years of work, my livelihood, and the following that I had worked so hard to build over the years.
The way I was hacked was a friend sent me a DM. Saying something along the lines of she was creating a clothing line and wanted to send me the sheet to look over. Asked for my phone number and sent me a link. I thought it was my friend sending me this message not realizing her account also had been hacked. The hacker was pretending to be her. As soon as I clicked the link, something in my gut went off and I just knew. I looked at Evans and said I am fairly certain my account just got hacked. He said babe you’re freaking out. I quickly went in IG to try and change my password to stop this and saw another user was already added and then I was immediately blocked out of my account.
Panic immediately set in. The problem with Instagram is they really have no tech support. You call the phone number, it basically says we don’t answer phone calls, it is all recordings, and no actual person. There is no way to get in contact with anyone. I immediately called my manager who set off trying to find us an IG contact. I reported my account with IG and did the face scan video and other tasks, but my hacker had 2 factor authentication set up on my account so they would get an alert anytime I tried to get in or reset my password, and it stopped me. It was so frustrating, I felt helpless.
I was very lucky because my manager found a contact who was able to help me and expedite my case. I ended up creating a whole new email address, they sent me a special reset link, a “backup” 2 factor code, and I was able to eventually get logged back into my account.
The hacker was really smart and went in my video archives and posted videos of me talking so it looked like it was me sharing all this info. Anyone who commented on his posts he would delete the comments and blocked them from my account, so I am still trying to clean up that mess. He also asked to friend followers I wasn’t following to make it seem like it was me. Just so crazy.
It took us five days to get my account back and I am not going to lie, I had some really dark days. Sadly, with my anxiety, my brain is wired to always think worst case scenarios, so I was certain my account was gone for good. All my contacts, relationships, and brand deals all down the drain. I also just kept beating myself up over being so stupid and letting this happen. I think Thursday I cried most of the day. My dad encouraged to me use this time as a true vacation. I have been doing this 12+ years and I always work even when I am on vacation. I almost felt like my identity was stolen, like who am I without my page and career? I felt like an addict striped of its drug of choice. I realized just how much time I waste scrolling when I was unable to mindlessly scroll. I didn’t even get on Evans’ phone and scroll; I stayed completely off and didn’t even photograph one thing. Since I couldn’t share anything, why bother? By Saturday, while I was a nervous wreck about getting my account back, I started to actually enjoy the time that I had without my phone in my hand all the time.
A few things I learned from this experience:
ONE| Always have 2 factor authentication turned on for your accounts. I am pretty sure I didn’t have this set up before and it was the very first thing I did when I got my account back. You simply download an app, I did Duo Mobile, and then this gives you a code that is required to enter anytime anyone or myself tries to log in your account. This is crucial.
TWO| Get verified. I did not know this previously, but now any account can get verified. Before you had to have a certain amount of followers, but they just recently opened this up to the public. You pay $14.99 a month, but this gives you access to an actual person at Instagram if your account were to be hacked. For someone like me where this is my livelihood and how I make a living, it is worth the $14 a month for security. I promptly set that up after my 2 factor. You can do this under settings on instagram.
THREE | If you think an account you follow has been hacked unfollow them. A reader shared that with me so they then can’t target you.
FOUR | Report the person the hacker is trying to get you to follow. Like my hacker kept tagging some woman to follow which was the scam.
I hope this was helpful and I pray this doesn’t happen to any of you!