Surely my friends were aware my Instagram account was taken over by someone else when they started to receive messages to invest in cryptocurrency.
More and more, I’ve seen accounts fall victim to these crypto scammers who try to lure users’ followers into their cyber scheme.
But never did I think my account would fall victim to them as well.
When attempting to use the Instagram app on March 4, 2022, I was locked out of my account with my password, email, phone number and username all changed.
I immediately tried not to panic, thinking that Instagram was a well-established company with a framework to help users recover their accounts.
But this is not entirely the case.
The platform, with over 2 billion monthly users, has no customer service support team to help users with any difficulties. Instead, they provide a limited help center with short answers to frequently asked questions.
After experiencing the many frustrations of not being able to log back in, I finally regained access back into my account, so here is my experience with how I recovered my Instagram account in less than 36 hours.
Using the Faq page
Firstly, I went to the FAQ page that offers a few steps to take if you suspect your account is hacked. The first option is to send a login link to either your email address or phone number. This step immediately worked, and I received a login link. However, as soon as I logged back into my account and changed my password, I was locked out once again as the hacker still had access. I attempted to receive another login link but had no success. The hacker changed all of my contact information, so any request for a link would go to them rather than me.
The FAQ page’s next option is to request a code sent to your email or phone number. Once again, since my account was no longer linked to any of my contact methods, this was unhelpful.
The third option was to use a two-factor authentication code from a third-party app. Since I hadn’t set this authentication up, and my hacker had already decided to set it up with their information, this didn’t help either.
the selfie video
The final, last-ditch effort offered by Instagram is sending them a video selfie along with a secure email address that they can contact you with. Similar to setting up a Face ID on an iPhone, I had to show different angles of my head to confirm I was a real person and the account belonged to me. According to Instagram, the company doesn’t use facial recognition but instead has humans review the video selfies to authorize access to accounts.
It is worth noting that this technology was super glitchy. The first few times I tried to follow the on-screen instructions, my phone froze and didn’t accept my submission. Also, this method only works if you have photos on your account to verify your video with.
After submitting a couple of videos, I received emails from Instagram saying they could not recognize my face. The great thing about this method is that you can submit as many videos as you please for them to review. It took around 12 video selfies in about 24 hours for them to finally verify my account. I then received an email containing a link to change my password and regained full access to my account.
One thing that set me back significantly and would have allowed me to regain access to my account much sooner was Instagram restricting my attempts to log in to my account. When I tried to log in with the phone number I set the account up with, I was given a “Please wait a few minutes before you try again” message. Unfortunately, this message didn’t go away even after a few minutes. It was only after 24 hours that I was allowed to try again and submit another request for a selfie video.
how to avoid getting hacked
Getting hacked is in no one’s best interest, but sometimes things happen out of our control. The best way to avoid getting hacked is by setting a strong password and setting up two-factor authentication. Having two-factor authentication set up allows you to use an authentication app or receive an SMS code so that you bypass all of the other methods that may have been compromised.
Also, make sure to check the “Accounts Centre” tab in your Instagram app’s settings and remove any linked accounts that you don’t recognize. This will help to make sure only you have access to your account, and no one else has gained access without you knowing.