MY INSTAGRAM ACCOUNT WAS HACKED.
I really didn’t want to title this post MY INSTAGRAM ACCOUNT WAS HACKED as these images were taken with so much loving energy and fun last week. My other half is over the moon he’s going to be a daddy and I’m also very much in love with my bump (currently 18 weeks). It’s our first baby together, although he’s been an amazing dad to Sasha for almost 9 years. I’m just very happy in general with life and so blessed and grateful for everything I have. Can’t wipe the smile off my face lately. And then something awful happened on Saturday morning. My Instagram account was hacked. Big deal some of you might think, but when your livelihood depends on it and you’ve worked really hard for 5 years to build the portfolio and community on there – it really is a big deal. Personal information is compromised, images of family members, private messages and simply put theft of my business in a matter of minutes. That’s not the worst part though. As soon as the hack happened, the hacker emailed me asking for money and threatened to delete my account and sell it on if I don’t pay him the ransom. My email address, phone number and username were changed so quickly I didn’t manage to get in front of this awful person. I got notifications via email of all the changes one after another, but it was sadly too late. Long story short I’m still waiting for a resolution from Instagram who have asked me for some information about my account (I think the emails were automated), but haven’t heard back since. It’s been 3 days. Am I hopeful it will get resolved? Yes. I’ve read numerous articles and have spoken to a few bloggers who have had the same thing happen to them from the same hacker. Their accounts were restored thanks to Instagram, so all I can do is just wait and pray I guess?
The amount of love, messages and emails from everyone worrying about me is unreal in the past few days – thank you guys. At the end of the day, all it matters is that everyone is safe doesn’t it? It’s so lovely to know that you guys are all there for me, supporting me. The hardest part for me is the fact that some of my projects are already being affected as a lot of the paid blogging work with brands usually includes posts and story shares on Instagram. My 6 month ambassadorship until the end of this year with one of my favourite brands is solely based on Instagram, so you can imagine why I would be so worried.
So many things went through my mind in these last couple of days. What would happen if I never recover my Instagram account? Would I lose all work / credibility as a blogger? Would my blog and the rest of the social channels suffice when I pitch myself for paid projects? Would I have to start all over or just ditch the Instagram altogether? I’ve made so many connections there with my followers who probably never even check my blog and prefer to chat to me on IG. It’s an on-going “ping pong” game in my head at the moment while I patiently wait for reactivation of my account. As for the hacker – I feel sorry for people who feel they have the need to do this to people / businesses. Sad people.
Anyway, wanted to update you guys in case you were wondering where I was. I’m still smiling, enjoying the bump and will continue to create content and share it with you on here and wherever I can. That, no-one can take away from me.
UPDATE – ACCOUNT RECOVERED (2 WEEKS LATER)
Guys! My account was finally recovered 2 freaking weeks later, but it’s great news! None of personal information or images were touched. The hacker simply changed all the contact info and disabled it with only one end game – to get money after threatening to delete it. Lucky for me he didn’t delete anything. Judging by the complaints and tweets on Twitter (have a nosey on Twitter search tab), this same person / group of hackers must have mass hacked hundreds of accounts, so they just focus on the ones who are responding and are happy to pay the ransom. The email the hacker used is: firstname.lastname@example.org to ask for ransom, but I think I’ve found out how the hack began. I only realised this a few days ago, but after speaking to a couple of other bloggers whose accounts were also hacked, we think it all started with this “phishing email” see screenshot below.
I get a lot of emails like these asking for my rates, so I didn’t think anything of it. The brand Joie is a legit brand by the way and I wonder if they have any idea they’re being used in these hacks? Or perhaps these hackers just randomly pick different brands? I should email Joie anyway. Soooo long story short, I clicked on the link that took me to Instagram and I’m assuming this is how they got my login details. PLEASE BE CAREFUL WHEN YOU RECEIVE THESE KINDS OF EMAILS. I wasn’t extra careful as I get emails from all over the world from PR’s and they often use their personal gmail accounts too, but still, I should have taken extra care.
As soon as the hack has happened I reported it to Instagram. Below are the screenshots of the steps you need to go through on the app.
This is how you submit the report that the account was hacked. Within a couple of hours I received an automated email from Facebook asking me for more details about the hack as well as all the info about my account. Once you send it, you wait… and wait…. and wait…. for days… I decided to submit a few more “hacked account” reports because I wasn’t hearing back from IG. Same situation – automated email and me replying with all the info I know. I even tried to report my account as disabled and this seemed to get a different response as I was asked to prove my identity by taking a selfie with the code they provided me with. But then the same thing – waited for days and nothing happened. Here’s the link for reporting your account as disabled.
I chased every email they sent me numerous times but they all seem to be bots.
Eventually after chasing every single reply from them I heard back from IG asking me for more information about my account. I was asked to provide the email address I opened my account with, what device I used to open my account and any previous usernames. I failed this verification twice, but eventually got the correct info for them. Who can remember what device they had 5 years ago? After a few more days of chasing them I got an email from Facebook (and I think this time a human) saying I passed the identity verification. I was asked to email them from the email I opened my account with (Thank God I still use it) and they have sent me a link to reset my password and access my account. The link was invalid. I replied to the email thread stating about my invalid link and within minutes I was asked to take another selfie with a handwritten code they’ve given me. 10 minutes later and I was sent a valid link to access my account where I was able to change my username back to @lafotka, change the email address, phone number and set up two-step verification.
Long story short, there’s no quicker or easier way to get the account back other than via Instagram / Facebook.
Some bloggers got theirs back within a few hours / days but my verification took longer. Just glad to have it back. I hope this helps anyone who’s in the same situation. My tip would be to stay calm and trust that the account will be recovered. I had no doubt mine would be, though I cannot speak for different hacks. This hacker didn’t touch any content thankfully.
Steer clear from other “hackers” who can hack hackers for a fee to get your account back. Don’t pay anyone any money.
HOW TO STAY SECURE
Change your password regularly. Switch on two-factor notification. Don’t click on any dodgy links.
STYLING THE BUMP.
I thought I’d quickly chat to you about styling the bump. The first couple of months were a bit hard as nobody knew about our pregnancy and we wanted to wait until the 12 week scan to tell everyone. Plus there’s that period where people wonder whether you ate too many pies that day or maybe expecting a baby. But now it’s a whole new story. The bump is getting bigger by day and I’ve been playing around with non-maternity fashion, which has been so much fun. Oversized jumper, baggy jumpsuits and lots of accessories like belts and shoes – them I can wear throughout the pregnancy without a worry of them being too tight. I hope.
I got this knit jumpsuit in Spain for £20 and it’s the best buy so far as it’s so stretchy and comfy. Blazer came with its own belt, but I replaced it with this snakeskin number, because you know – snakeskin is so on trend at the moment. Boots are super old and I’m glad I found them in one of the shoe boxes. Perfect timing.
Chat with you all soon and remember to take care and keep on smiling!
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