What to Do if Your Instagram Account is Hacked

Published: June 14, 2017 - 9:00am EDT

Instagram page on a computer screen

Instagram is one of the most frequently-used apps on mobile devices. It's great for sharing pictures and videos of what’s going on around you, so you can keep your friends and family up-to-date on what's happening in your life. You only need an email address to sign up for Instagram, and your account is secured with a password. But what happens if your Instagram account is hacked?

If someone else gains access to your account, can they post something while pretending to be you? Can a hack be easily fixed? We will answer these questions and more below.

Reasons why your Instagram account may have been hacked

There are many possibilities, but here are some of the most frequent reasons your account could have been hacked:

  • Someone else knows your password, either from you telling them (intentionally or unintentionally), or finding out somehow
     
  • Your password was not secure, and someone was able to guess it
     
  • One of your other accounts had the same password as your Instagram account, and somebody hacked that account and used the password to get into your Instagram account
     
  • You lost your mobile device and were still signed into your account at the time
     
  • Instagram customer data was compromised
     
  • You have an influential account, as a celebrity or public figure, which often makes your account a target for hackers

It’s never fun to discover that your account was compromised, especially if the person who accessed it was posting on your behalf. We can teach you what to do in four simple steps below.

What to do if your Instagram account is hacked

1. Try to sign into your Instagram account.

This is the first step, which will help you determine if your password was changed by the person who hacked into your account. If you can still sign in using your old password, it's likely that your account's intruder had access to your password – or at least didn’t remember to change it once they got in. However, you should still change your account password to keep them from getting back in. If you can’t sign in, you will need to reset your password to get back into your account.

2. Log in and change your password, or reset your password if you can’t get into your account.

If you can sign in:

  1. Tap the profile icon on the bottom menu of the screen.

    Instagram profile menu
     
  2. Tap the More Options button (the three vertical dots) in the top-right corner of the screen.

    More Options button
     
  3. Tap Change Password.

    Settings menu
     
  4. Enter your old password in the first field, a new password in the second field, and a copy of the new password in the third field. Tap Done when you’re finished.

    Instagram password change form

That will make sure your password is changed, and your account is now secure for the future. With a new password, it will be more difficult for a hacker to get into your account again – especially if they're the same person who broke in before.

If you can’t sign in:

  1. On the sign in screen, tap Get Help Signing In.

    Instagram sign in page
     
  2. Select a way to access your account by tapping Use Username or Email, Send an SMS, or Log In with Facebook.

    Choose method of resetting password
     
  3. On the next screen, tap in the box provided and enter your email address, user name, or phone number (depending on the method you chose above). Or, if you chose to reset your password through Facebook select your Facebook account. When you’re finished typing, tap Done.

    Enter reset information
     
  4. Access your email account or your device's text messaging service. If you selected SMS message, tap the link you receive. If you selected email, open the email and tap Reset Your Instagram Password.

    Password reset link in email
     
  5. Type a new password into the first box that appears, and then click in the second box and re-type it. When you’re finished, tap Done.

    Create new password phone

With your password reset, your account should be a little more secure, so you can once again access it without fear. If you have any problems with this process, there may be a technical problem with your account. Click here to learn how to contact Instagram for further assistance.

However, simply changing or resetting your password isn’t enough. Make sure you follow the rest of the steps here to ensure your account is properly secured.

3. Determine if the email account you used to sign up for Instagram was compromised as well, and secure it.

Sign into your email account (or Facebook account, if that’s what you used to sign up for Instagram) to determine whether or not that account was compromised as well. If it was (and maybe even if it wasn't), it’s probably a good idea to change the password for that account, as well as the passwords of any other accounts that you log into with that email or Facebook account.

4. Review your recent activity to see who gained access.

If your account was accessed by someone else, it’s possible that they posted something while posing as you. This is bad news! You don’t want anyone posting spam, offensive material, or any other potentially undesirable content on your Instagram account. It could ruin your reputation, or even get you in trouble.

Simply tap the heart icon on the bottom menu of Instagram to view recent activity, and then tap You at the top of the screen. This will summarize everything you’ve done lately, so you can quickly find and delete posts you may not want there.

Instagram recent activity

Unfortunately, anyone who has already seen those post can’t un-see them, but at least nobody else will!

Now that you’ve secured your Instagram account, it’s important to know how you might have been able to prevent this in the future. Check out our 5 tips below on how to stop Instagram hacks in the future.

5 ways to prevent Instagram hacks in the future

1. Sign out of Instagram each time you finish using it.

A great way to help prevent someone accessing your account is simply to not be logged into it if you're not using it. Even if it’s just a friend who grabs your phone for a minute, if you're already logged into Instagram, they can get into your account without knowing or guessing your password. And once they're inside, you never know what they may post on your behalf, and reputations can be ruined very fast by an unflattering post online that spreads.

Make sure you sign out of your account when you're done using it, and only sign in each time you actually want to use it. Not only will this help protect your security, but it will also disrupt the data collection practices of third-party applications that you've linked to Instagram. This means less targeted advertising!

To sign out of Instagram, simply tap the profile icon on the bottom menu, and then tap the More Options button (the three vertical dots) at the top of the screen. Then scroll down and tap Log Out.

Log Out button

2. Change your password regularly, and make sure it’s secure.

Next time, don’t wait until your account has been hacked to change your password. It’s important, for all of your accounts, to change your passwords regularly. Changing your password at least once every six months is a good practice, and it will help protect you from being hacked in the future. Also, be sure not to use the same password for every account.

There’s also a chance your account was hacked by someone who simply guessed your password, if it wasn't particularly complex. So make sure when you change your passwords, make them unique from each other, but also complex enough to not be easily guessed by others. Check out our helpful article if you need some tips on creating strong passwords.

3. Turn on two-factor authentication for your account.

Two-factor authentication is a great way to add another level of security to your account.  Typically, anyone could gain access to your account if they knew (or were able to figure out) your user name and password. Two-factor authentication changes this by requiring anyone trying to log into your account from any device other than the one you originally registered with Instagram to pass an additional security check.

Typically, you would simply receive an email, get a password reset link, and then be able to change the password for an account. This means that someone who gains access to one account (such as your email) can simply request a password reset link, and take control of your account. With two-factor authentication, you must verify your identity with Instagram though email, SMS text message, or another third-party app – two times. This makes it much less likely that someone can access your account without having your device physically in their hands. 

4. Revoke third-party app access to your Instagram account.

Think before you add!
Allowing any third-party application access to your Instagram account can be a big mistake, and might very well be the reason why your account gets compromised. If a malicious app gains access to your device and starts mining your data to access your other accounts, you could be in big trouble. Always think carefully about granting third-party apps access to any of your accounts. Before adding an app, make sure to read reviews of it, and check its legitimacy on other websites.  

5. Never give out your password to Instagram, or any other account.

Never reveal your passwords to anyone, not even through hints! Also, if you have to write your passwords down, store them where only you can get to them. Another strategy if you have difficulty keeping track of passwords is to use a password manager to remember them for you. If someone finds out the password for one of your accounts, and you use the same password for Instagram or other things, the person who knows that password can cause trouble for you in many more places. So stay vigilant, and keep your passwords to yourself!

 

We hope we helped you recover your Instagram account if it was hacked, and that our advice helps you keep your account secure in the future. Instagram also used to allow you to report hacked accounts, but they no longer offer this feature. So if all else fails, you can always delete your Instagram account and start fresh. Instagram used to allow you to report it if your account was hacked, but they no longer offer this feature. If you need anymore help, check out this help page on Instagram. Be sure to reset your password, and keep your account secure!

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