A few weekends ago, Ian mentioned at dinner that his Instagram account had been hacked. After receiving several notices that someone had attempted to reset his password, the hacker was successful in accessing Ian's account.
It was then that Ian and I began the process of reclaiming the account. We visited Instagram's Contact Us page and sent an email explaining what had happened. And this is where we first got into trouble in verifying the account. Ian's account was all about cars. It had nothing to do with him. There was a critical piece missing from Ian's Instagram account.
Instagram's approach to hackers
A response came back shortly thereafter from Instagram, which provided a code and the following instructions:
Reply to the email with an attached photo of the account holder. The photo needed to show a clear picture of the account holder's face, as well as a hand-written note that included the code, full name and account username.
Tip within a tip: New to Instagram? Click here for a helpful guide on getting started with this addictive app.
Essentially, to prove his identity, Ian was asked to take and attach a selfie that could then be compared with other selfies he'd shared on his Instagram account. The only problem was, this account didn't include any of Ian's selfies.
One thing every account needs on Instagram
More than 600 million people use Instagram each month, the vast majority using the service for personal reasons. In fact, that's where Instagram gets its reputation for being a hot spot for images of food and selfies. But there are also many people out there who use Instagram for other reasons altogether. My Instagram page, for example, is a combination of my personal life, as well as behind the scenes action from my national radio show. (If you're not following me already, click here to join me on Instagram.)
If you're using Instagram to promote your business or even your interest in other hobbies, it's important to know that Instagram uses selfies as a form of verification if your account is ever hacked. For accounts that do not include a selfie, verifying your identity may not be possible.
This is why it's even more important that you take the steps to adequately secure your account to begin with. To secure your account, Instagram recommends you take the following steps:
- Choose a strong password that includes at least six numbers, as well as symbols such as ! and $.
- Change your password regularly, especially if you are notified by Instagram that your password needs to be changed due to suspicious activity.
- Keep your password private at all times - don't share it with anybody!
- Secure your email account as well, since account information is emailed to the address you provide.
- Always log out of your Instagram account after use, and resist the temptation to click, "Remember Me," when logging in from new devices. It may save you a few seconds when you log in, but it also makes it easier for unauthorized parties to access your account.
- Don't authorize third-party apps to access your Instagram account for posting, or any other reason.
And now, while you're thinking of it, put a selfie on your Instagram account. This way if you ever get hacked, you're covered!
Of course, Instagram isn't the only account you should worry about. Click here for one critical step you must take now to secure your Facebook account.