How To Check if Someone Else is Using your Instagram Account
As more and more of our lives move online thanks to applications and platforms such as Facebook and Instagram, crime has followed suit. Increasingly, thieves are less likely to accost you in a dark alleyway and take your money, and more likely to steal your identity online or compromise your personal information so that they can use your credit. Social media accounts have become a prime target for a huge variety of online criminals. Hackers try to steal our personal identification so that they can pretend to be us and buy things in our name, while scammers use social engineering to trick us out of money or goods.
Tens of millions of people have already been the victim of online crime. Users have had their information stolen from websites, including their personal identification and their credit information. Sites as varied as Google Plus, Facebook, Equifax, and Yahoo have all been victims of data breaches affecting millions or even billions of accounts. Individual cyber-crime is even more prevalent. Official totals place the annual loss from cybercrime in the billions of dollars; ransomware payments alone are at a billion dollars per year.
It may seem that a site like Instagram is relatively safe from such fears, since it’s just a place for people to post pictures, right? Unfortunately, that isn’t true. Hacking social media sites is one of the crybercriminal’s go-to moves, because social media accounts (even if they don’t have anything worthwhile to steal in and of themselves) are a doorway into a person’s entire electronic life. Our information is ubiquitous online, and having control of someone’s social media places a criminal one major step closer to having control of someone’s assets. Instagram has been a prime target of crooks and thieves; the company is owned by Facebook and has been hacked in the past, most recently in 2017 when up to six million accounts, including Selena Gomez’s, the most-followed account on the platform, were compromised.
With users constantly being targeted by hackers, scammers, and other users who just want to take your information from you, it’s important to note that taking your account back from those who want to cause you harm is totally possible. But how can you tell whether your Instagram has been hacked? In this article, I’ll show you how to do just that, and I’ll also teach you some techniques to increase your security level online.
Signs Your Instagram Account was Compromised
- Signs Your Instagram Account was Compromised
- Securing your Instagram account
- Use a secure password
- Turn on two-factor authentication
- Get recovery codes
- Check authorized apps
- Check your email security
- Log out of shared computers
- Don’t be a phishing victim
Some sites, such as Google, provide you with an update whenever someone logs into your account from a new device. Unfortunately, Instagram doesn’t do that. In order to notice whether you’ve been hacked on Instagram, you will have to pay some personal attention to any activity on your account. This means paying attention to any odd posts or direct messages sent from your account. Here are some straightforward signs you can look for to help pinpoint what’s going on with your account.
The most obvious sign that someone else is using your Instagram account is if you see account activity that isn’t yours. That can include uploads that you didn’t publish, followers you don’t recognize or didn’t approve, or people you are following that you don’t remember following. While it is possible that you simply forgot about doing something on your Instagram account (particularly if you have a busy and high-volume account), if you spot a post that you know you did not create or a photo you know you didn’t take, then you have a definitive indication that someone has compromised your account.
Email from Instagram
If someone requests a change to their Instagram account, the site sends an email to the address of record to verify the change. If you see one or more of these emails when you haven’t made any changes to your account, then your account has been hacked. If you do see an email like this, you need to move quickly to secure your account. If your email has also been compromised, the hacker will also see the email, use it to change your details and then delete the email so you don’t get to see it.
If you see an email from Instagram telling you that a change has been requested, take action immediately. Do not follow the link in the email – log into Instagram separately and secure your account by changing your password.
View past account activity
A little-known feature of Instagram is that you can review all of your past account activity. Under settings, select “Account Data”. This will bring up a screen full of optional pieces of information you can look at. I suggest examining password changes and privacy changes as a starting point.
Securing your Instagram account
Unlike Snapchat, Instagram allows multiple logins from multiple devices at once. Where usually you would be logged out if someone else logged in, you don’t get that in Instagram. So you have to depend on spotting unusual activity or that alert email from Instagram. It’s important to make sure you take responsibility for securing your Instagram account, as the company won’t always push you to take proactive steps in your own self-interest.
Use a secure password
If you suspect someone else is using your Instagram account, change the password right away. It is a simple step that takes less than a minute and will stop anyone being able to use your account. This is also a step you can take proactively; the stronger your password, the harder it is to hack your account.
- Log into Instagram.
- Enter your existing password and change it to something difficult.
- Save and log in using your new password.
Use a unique, difficult password or use a password manager to suggest something for you. Make it as difficult as possible while keeping it memorable. Or let the password manager do the work. What makes a strong password? Security experts say to use a combination of letters, numbers, and special characters (such as @, !, #, etc.) and to never use the same password on multiple sites.
Turn on two-factor authentication
You should use two-factor authentication on every social network and every online account that offers it. Two-factor authentication helps to ensure that only you can log into your account, as you’ll receive a text on your smartphone with a confirmation code in order to log-in. This doesn’t just secure your account, but it also ensures that anyone attempting to log into your account automatically alerts you to their attempts, as you’ll receive a notice on your smart device. Here’s how to set it up.
- Log into Instagram and go to your profile.
- Select Privacy and Security.
- Select “Edit Two-Factor Authentication Setting”.
- Select either to receive a phone code or to have an application authentication turned on.
2FA (two-factor authentication) is now enabled and will ask for a code every time you log in.
Get recovery codes
As part of turning on two-factor authorization, you can get a set of recovery codes from Instagram which you can use to log in if you lose access to your phone for some reason. You can reset the codes anytime.
Instagram allows third-party apps to utilize your account to offer features and benefits. If you recently added an app and then found your account had been compromised, you need to check what apps are allowed to access your account.
- Log into Instagram and navigate to Authorized Applications.
- Run through the list and disable any you don’t recognize or no longer need.
If someone else is using your Instagram account and you change your password and remove unauthorized apps, they should now be locked out. If they gained access using an app, they will no longer be able to see what you’re doing or log into your account.
Check your email security
Many of these security tips rely on you having an email account that hasn’t been compromised. Your email account is usually the primary way for apps like Instagram to communicate securely with you. It’s crucial that your email account be under your control, otherwise all the work you do securing your other accounts will be quickly undone by the hacker or criminal. Don’t share your email account with anyone, change the password on it periodically, and never use the same password for your email as for your other important accounts.
This one seems incredibly obvious but it’s amazing how often people do it: you’re using Instagram at the library or the Internet cafe, and it’s time to go, so you just stand up and walk away…leaving your Instagram or your Facebook (or worse yet, your email!) sitting open to all comers. Whenever you use Instagram or any other secured application on a shared computer, it is crucially important to log out of that computer before you physically leave it.
Don’t be a phishing victim
Phishing is another way that hackers can readily gain access to your system. Phishing is when someone sends out an email purporting to be from Instagram telling you that there is a problem with your account, and that you should log in to fix it. The email includes a convenient link. So you click on the link, and it takes you to a page that looks just like Instagram’s, and you obediently type in your username and password. And now the hacker has both of those things. NEVER click on a login link that is sent to you via email; go to the website by typing in the URL (and not the URL in the email – the one you know to be good) by hand. Instagram’s URL is www.instagram.com.
Have you ever been hacked or had an account compromised? Noticed something wrong with your Instagram account? Tell us about your experience below!
We have a lot more information about getting the most out of your Instagram account. Here’s our tutorial on how to repost someone else’s Instagram story. We can show you how to screenshot an Instagram story, how to ask questions in an Instagram story, and how to know if someone is stalking you on Instagram. We can even show you how to hide your location in your Instagram posts.