NOTE: (This is a follow-up to an Instagram post. Last updated: 5/25/23, 4:30 p.m. MST.)
If someone messages you and asks you to follow them, then asks for your email to send you a link to follow….DON’T CLICK THE LINK!
What’s The Deal?
This hacker trap has snared at least 2 Instagram accounts and one Facebook account in the past month. The unsuspecting person clicks the link, and before they can blink, the person on the other end changes the password, and the email address associated with that social media account. In the case of Instagram accounts, the hacker wipes clean the posts and those followers/following.
Adding insult to injury, the crook then contacts the person and demands ransom (as they define ransom, usually money) or tells the victim their info was given to them as a referral for help, and they can restore your account in X hours for a hefty fee (could be Bitcoin, your debit card, etc.). The crook may send you a screenshot of your account in programming code.
Unless you can actually verify that IS your account, don’t just take them at their word.
If someone messages you and asks you to follow them, then asks for your email to send you a link to follow….DON’T CLICK THE LINK! If your gut is telling you “this feels wrong” or “this feels really weird/shady”, don’t follow that person. All you have to do is click a FOLLOW button – most social media accounts have one.
Do I Have To Pay To Restore My Account?
In the case of one person, she was asked to provide payment via Cash App and purchase Bitcoin. She didn’t go through with it as the crook would have needed to be added to her Cash App account via email, so what would have stopped the crook from demanding more and being able to access her bank through the app?
I personally advise against paying hackers. I completely understand how much time it’s taken to build your following, the posts, and the patterns for posting. In the end, it’s not much different than the social media platform deciding to close shop forever – you would be SOL (stuck out of luck).
How do I report my account being hacked?
- If you think your Instagram has been hacked, go to Instagram.com/hacked and follow their instructions. It seems pretty impersonal, but it’s the only method available at the time of this blog.
- Do you suspect your Facebook has been hacked, go to Facebook.com/hacked and follow their instructions.
- This support file link from Google may help if you think your YouTube channel has been hacked.
- Are you on TikTok and you think you’ve been hacked? Visit their webpage for support.
- Has your Twitter account been hacked (compromised)? Visit this webpage for next steps to take.
- If your LinkedIn has been hacked, read this webpage for guidance and next steps.
- Pinterest seems to be policing hackers pretty well. They claim they will send an email to the owner, reset your password, and log everyone out of your account if they think it’s been hacked. For more please read their support doc.
This blog will be updated as we learn the reporting process for other social media platforms. Please bookmark this webpage and check back.
What You Should Do Next
- Change ALL your passwords on ALL your accounts right away.
- Use a password manager to keep your accounts safe. Google has a free password manager. At Visibly Media we use LastPass.com, which has both a free and paid service. Create a password that will only be used for the Password Manager – something you have never used. Make it a long one, 16-24 characters minimum (write it down and keep it safe).
- Download the accompanying Authenticator app. You may have to look in the Apple or Google store for the download. This is called 2-Factor Authentication, also known as 2FA. After you add your accounts to the app, as you log in to one, open the app and enter the provided code. You have about 30 seconds to enter the code; after this time the code expires and another code is provided.
As former president Ronald Reagan once said, “Trust, but verify.” Hackers are in it for themselves, no matter what B.S. they’re trying to sell you on, including lines like “oh, but your friend so-and-so gave me your contact info as a referral because you were hacked, too”. They have every desire to take every penny they want or think they’re owed and could care less what you lose. You’re right – it’s not great to think everyone could be a “bad guy” or “Stranger Danger”, but it’s better to be wary than lose your account.
Check back for more tips & tricks about Facebook and other social media platforms.
Be strategic. Be visible. Be found.
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