So, my Instagram account was hacked,
just in case the same happens to you this is how to get it back.
Keep Calm and Carry On
I discovered something wrong with my Instagram account when I tried logging in after a mobile phone update. I couldn’t recall my password and so logged in with Facebook. When I started to log in I was welcomed to Instagram, and prompted to create an account. “Strange…” I thought, as I had my account with Instagram for about four years. Anyway, at this point there was no option to turn back so I just carried on creating the new account as prompted.
Once I had a new account I was able to see if there was any evidence of my original @yoga_ocean account. It had completely vanished. I searched people and tags @yoga_ocean and nothing appeared. I admit I was beginning to panic at this stage: had I accidentally deleted it or disabled it? Had I lost it forever? I sent loads of messages through my new account to the help centre but to no avail.
I suspected that somehow my Instagram account had been hacked (I am not 100% sure how. It may have been linked to a a dodgy app that hacked my mobile phone, though there was also suspicious activity on my linked yahoo mail account. If any of your accounts are hacked I would recommend you log in from a safe computer or device and change the passwords to any social media accounts and any linked email accounts that may be compromised).
I found out that my account still existed because I had used unusual hashtags on some posts, #yogaocean being one. I searched #yogaocean hashtags and there was one of my pictures. I clicked on it and saw that it had a new username attached. I clicked on the user name and found my original account. It still existed! My advice is if you do not use hashtags, or if your hashtags are more general, then incorporate some unusual hashtags on your posts should you need to find them. (#yoga has over 55 million posts, #yogaocean only 245, for example).
Don’t let the hacker know that you know…
The hacker has full control of your account at this stage and can permanently delete it if they so choose, best not to annoy them.
Make a note of the new username that they have given your page, you are going to need this to get it back.
I changed the username on my new account to @yoga_ocean. This was to save the name for when I got my original account back so that no one else could take it. I would recommend this action, especially if you have a username linked to your business or blog.
How to contact Instagram:
It is not very easy to get through to the right department at Instagram in order to report the problem. You cannot access it through the normal help centre channels or Twitter. I tried lots of different things and did research online. Eventually I got it figured out:
- Log out of any Instagram accounts you are in (in my case this was the new one I just created)
- Try to log in again, only this time put in the new username that the hacker used on your account.
- You will not know the password but underneath there is a link ‘get help signing in’. Click that link.
- You will come to a page with different options, one of the options is ‘what to do if you think your account has been hacked’. Follow that link and you will be directed to fill in an online form.
- You will receive an email from Instagram asking you to give details of your complaint and details of your Instagram account.
- If they are satisfied with your response they will send you another email with a code and ask you to send them a photograph of yourself holding the code written on paper along with details of your Instagram account. (Again I used the new name that the hacker had given my account as well as Yoga Ocean).
As there were photos of me on my account they were able to verify it (I also had the back up if having shared my Instagram photos on Facebook pages so they could further verify that I was the rightful owner of the account). They sent me a link to reset the username, password and email. Some accounts do not have personal photos but this is still a requirement and you may have to through further identification processes in order to reclaim your account.
So that’s it folks. I had to strengthen my security settings as well and hopefully I will not have to go through that again. I hope that you never have to experience it but should you do, you now know how to get your Instagram life back.