I have been meaning to write this post and share with y’all how my Instagram was hacked, and how I got lucky and got it back, but you know life happens and this blog post has just been sitting in the drafts section of my blog the last few weeks. Before we dive in and y’all read about this horrendous experience, go to your Instagram account RIGHT NOW and turn on your Two-Factor Authentication to protect yourself and your account. Anytime you log-in, Instagram will send you a text with a code to confirm that it is in fact you logging in. See below if you need help to do this:
So let’s go back to almost 3 weeks ago to Sunday July 28th. It was just another Sunday afternoon and we just finished having breakfast all hanging around in the living room for a relaxing day with my family. My phone vibrated a few times so I decided to check my emails which is usually either work or there’s some big sale going on. It was neither. I received two emails from Instagram at 3:52pm. One was a notification that my email had been changed to what looks like my email: email@example.com and that my phone number was removed. Both emails had the option at the bottom that if I didn’t make the changes, I could secure my account and they provided a link. I clicked that link probably 100 times and it kept taking me back to the log in page. I asked my husband to search my account and it was gone. Poof. Gone. All the hard work that I put in the last year was gone just like that. With my email changed and phone number deleted from my account, I could not recover my password.
You can imagine the panic that I am currently going through. I’m talking full on anxiety attack and I feel myself wanting to burst in tears. My phone vibrates again, and I got another email, hoping that its another email from Instagram to help me or tell me they made a mistake, but it’s an email with the subject, Instagram Hack along with this message:
Your instagram page has been blocked. To unblock your account, send a message to our e-mail. We will wait for a response 3 hours.
If you do not write to us, your account will be cleared of all photos and we will sell it or your account will be deleted.
Are they seriously going to apologize that they hacked me? I was so angry. First, why is this happening to me, and second why do people like this exist, and think it is totally fine to do this to people? So of course I send them an email asking what they wanted from me. And below are several of their responses. Of course they wanted money. Money is the root of all evil after all.
After a couple hours of begging them to give me back my account and explaining to them what this account meant to me, I knew that my plea was not going to get me anywhere. I googled what to do when your Instagram gets hacked, read so many blog posts, and watched youtube videos of other people’s experience. So many of them said that if your hackers decided to delete you account, there was no way of getting it back. So I panic some more now knowing what these hackers had planned. A few of them got hacked and were able to retrieve their account, so I tried what they did and after what felt like 100 times of filling out the form on Instagram to let them know I was hacked, I finally received an email from them. It was not good news. My hope of getting my account back was getting smaller and smaller. In other people’s experience, they filled out the form, got an email from Instagram, and they had to verify ownership of their account. In my case, this is what they emailed:
At this point I was running out of options. The only option left was to pay these hackers, hope they haven’t deleted my account, and pray they will give it back. A huge part of me knew that there was a chance that even if I paid them, I would not get it back, but I had to try. So I googled how to get bitcoin, had to get verified, and I even had to call my bank to let them know that it was not a fraudulent charge since they flagged it and sent me a text. I emailed the hackers to let them know I sent them their money, and asked them for my account back. They STOPPED responding. I was heart broken. Not only was all of my work stolen from me, I was out $300, and come Monday morning I had to send a ton of emails to all the companies I had a partnership with to let them know what had happened. I was dreading those emails. I was sad. I was angry. I felt robbed. I wanted to cry, and once I started, I couldn’t stop . My husband felt bad, even my in-laws felt my pain. They knew the amount of work I had put in and they knew what it meant to me. I kept sending the hackers emails begging them but I did not get any more emails once the money was sent.
I refused to give up. I felt like I needed to keep trying. I filled out the form a handful more times, and this time instead of explaining in the notes that I was hacked, I begged Instagram to help me get this account back. I explained to them what my account meant to me. Then the unthinkable happend. I finally get another response from Instagram. This time, they gave me hope!! It was the email that I had been hoping for. The email from Instagram with instructions on how to verify ownership of an account. I followed their instructions which was to write down the code on a piece of paper along with my full name and Instagram handle, and to take a picture of my handwritten note showing my full face and both of my hands.
I sent my reply to Instagram exactly 27 times. So many people said that Instagram took 3+ days to get back to them, some said a week, and in a couple cases, Instagram never even got back to them. I waited for a response all night, but it was now 12 am, and I my eyes was tired from crying and staring at my screen all day and all night long. At this point there was nothing more I could do. It was midnight, and I had work the following morning. So I prayed before finally going to sleep.
I wake up the next day hoping it was a dream, but I still could not get in my account, let alone find it, I still had no response from Instagram. I started to get ready for work, and my phone vibrates. I finally received a response from Instagram. OMG! OMG! Their message says:
“Thanks for verifying your identity. You’re almost done recovering your account. To reset your password and gain access to your account…”
I am literally shaking. Is this real? A part of me was afraid that I was going to click on this link and the hackers somehow figured out how to hack me again. So with nothing else to lose, I clicked the link, and it took me to a page to let me know the link has expired. ARE YOU KIDDING ME!? So I immediately reply to their email explaining to them that the link they have sent is not working. I get another response after a few minutes to let me know that the password reset link has already been set for my account and they provided another link. I click on the link and it takes me to Instagram to make a new password!!
I could not believe it. I log back in, change back my email, re-add my phone number, and checked to make sure all my information was correct. I then check all my content which was surprisingly still all there, along with all my followers. I changed my handle back to @modernday_areanna, and I immediately turn on my Two-Factor Authentication. I finished getting ready for work, my hands shook and I cried the whole ride to work.
I’m telling y’all, when you google getting hacked on Instagram the results pretty much say kiss your account goodbye. How I manage to get my account back in less than 24 hours is still really crazy to me! I am incredibly thankful. I know it’s just Instagram, but I put my heart and soul into this account this last year. I followed a dream/goal of mine and finally decided to do something for myself. This is something I love, and I have made so many friendships on this platform that I will forever be grateful for. It’s something that has helped me gain self confidence, deal with my postpartum depression, and my anxiety. In a lot of ways this account has helped me navigate my way through motherhood, and life.
So let’s talk about Instagram for a few. I am not going to completely bash them because without their help I would not have my account back. Here is the thing, with Instagram everything is operated by bots, and there’s not exactly a phone number you can call, or email for customer service. The only help you can find is their Help Center which I found wasn’t helpful at all. I mean, how is it so easy for people to hack your account, and why is there not a better way to handle this situation? I just feel like there should be more support for bloggers and influencers who have worked really hard to get to where they are.
So if you haven’t yet, turn on your Two-Factor Authentication, and if God forbids this happens to you, don’t lose hope and don’t give up.
I know y’all are probably wondering how this even happened to me because I wondered the same thing as soon as it happened. I went back to everything I did right before I got hacked, and it all happend because of an email. An email that looks so similar to all the emails I get about a collaboration. In this email was a link, which looked like a regular Instagram link. I also looked up the company these hackers were portraying to be, and it was a real account. I found good reviews online for this account. I remember clicking the link they sent which took me to my browser, and what seemed like Instagram’s website, and thinking I was logged off. I logged on, and the hackers now had control of my account without me knowing until it was too late. The email looked so legit, and the handle they provided was a real company. I should have checked the link they provided because it was one letter off from the company they said they worked for. I should have also checked the web address when it took me to “Instagram” before logging in.
I shoulda, coulda, woulda. I never thought this would happen to me but now I am very careful. I am just glad I could put this all behind me. I hope this never happens to anyone else, but it has happened to so many people before me, and I am sure it will happen to more people after me. Unfortunately there is evil in this world we live in, but I truly believe that what you put out in the universe, the universe will give right back at you. Maybe not now but eventually.