It’s the worst feeling in the world, isn’t it? Waking up one day to find that your Instagram page has vanished into empty nothingness. The page you’ve poured your heart and soul into building over the years, the community you’ve built and the interactions you’ve had with your fans disappearing overnight.
Unfortunately, this was the case for us at Flawless Lashes. The story below is told by owner Loreta Jasilionyte.
At approximately 11:41am Sunday morning the 4th of February, the flawless_lashes_by_loreta Instagram account was taken over from myself (Loreta - the original account owner and creator) by an unknown hacker. The password was changed without my knowledge and I was then locked out of my own business account.
The account name was then changed to Instagrammer before presumably being disabled or worse, deleted. The account was hacked at roughly 88.5k followers and is an essential channel for not only business success but engaging with
our community as well.
We found ourselves at an absolute loss as to what to do or who to turn to, but had to keep operating the business regardless.
Until you’re thrown into a scenario such as this which is completely out of your control, it’s difficult to comprehend the emotions that accompany you. It becomes even harder to run a business, harder to keep your team motivated and harder to show no weakness.
Inside it felt like years and years of building the business was collapsing overnight, and there was nothing we could do. It’s no secret the gargantuan role that social media plays not only for us but for others in the industry. It took me a few days to clear my mind and prepare a solution that will bring light at the end of a seemingly never-ending tunnel.
The following days were stressful, as you can imagine. Facebook and Instagram did little in way of offering any support. Of course, the first step when this happened to us was to search on Google for a solution - surely there was a process in place for this, right? Surely others had been through this and managed to recover an account?
Unfortunately, this wasn’t the case. The stories we read lead us down a rabbit hole with no outcome, it seemed most had struggled to recover an account once it was in the hands of a hacker.
After reading the different stories of various Influencers and their experiences of being hacked, we noticed that our situation completely different.
There were few types of reasons why accounts had been either hacked or deleted:
1. Your team had access to the account and had deleted the account, either on purpose or by accident.
2. Many people reported you for spam – Instagram deleted or blocked your account.
3. Random hackers found a way to get access to your account and asked for a huge sum of money for its return.
4. Hackers successfully gained access to your account and used it for their own purposes, changing the account name in the process.
5. A hacker had hacked and deleted your account, purely for the outcome of wanting to harm your business.
The first 4 reasons, didn’t apply to us. My heart sunk, naturally we were devastated to hear this as it seemed that any trace of the account had now left the web indefinitely.
Despite knowing this and then re-reading all the terrible stories whilst simultaneously pulling our hair out, we continued to email Instagram. Over and over again.
There is a form you can complete on Instagram, but this just lead to endless automated replies which, as you can imagine, were useless in our case. Eventually we gave up emailing Instagram because it seemed
impossible to get a real person on the other end.
We decided instead to go through our Facebook Ads Manager. We managed to get a real person on the other end and not just endless automated responses.
It was a long process (3 weeks or more in total) of backwards and forwards with Facebook to first help them to understand what happened but secondly also verify my identity, this included tax statements and a declaration letter swearing that this was Flawless Lashes property.
We felt we may finally have been making some form of progress, but then we had some bad news. Facebook said the account had been deleted and there was no remaining trace of the account on the web.
It seemed that (again) there was no hope. But we refused to take no for an answer. With endless persistence we managed to keep going and still had blind faith that we would recover this account.
It reached the stage where I was emailing 10 (TEN) emails a day to keep
this in front of their support team. Annoying? Probably, but this helped me a lot.
Eventually, after confirming my identity and proving ownership of the Instagram account, we were on the last stages of what seemed to be getting the account back.
Facebook and Instagram sent a lot of reset links, all of which didn’t work. We cleared the cache, cookies, copy and pasted the link they sent to reset into a browser instead of clicking, but nothing worked.
We tried this over and over again, but had the same result. Then, out of the blue one evening, Grace from our PR team was creating an Instagram story on our beauty account (our sister account) and noticed that the flawless_lashes_by_loreta account was active.
We couldn’t believe it. She then rang me to which I checked my emails and there was in fact an email, but one that I still frustratingly couldn’t open. I forwarded this onto Grace and we finally regained full ownership of the account. Thankfully this story has a happy ending.
I want to say a huge thank you to all who supported our new account, whilst we were trying to get our old one back, there really are some nice people out there and we were blown away by the support of our wonderful community - we won’t forget this.
In summary, we recovered the account doing the below:
1. We invest a lot into Facebook and Instagram and found that going through Facebook Ads Manager enabled us to get a person on the end of our query. Go through Facebook Ads Manager.
2. Keep emailing and emailing and emailing. Follow-up as much as you can. We would only receive 1 email a week (on average) from them, but we had to ensure that our problem wasn’t forgotten about.
In the meantime we were given some advice on how to protect ourselves from being hacked.
Basically its super hard, despite all the privacy we had we still found ourselves hacked, someone must have really wanted us down.
But if you don’t know, please at least have extra security:
1. Never use the same company email address as your private information.
2. Ensure your password contains letters, numbers and symbols. It’s also recommended to change your passwords every 3 months.
3. Have two way authentication.
4. If an employee (or someone that has access to the account) leaves, ensure that all passwords are changed.
5. Ensure you have up to date antivirus software running.
6. Only provide access to those that you can trust and actually require access. Get contracts in place that address security measures that they must go through should they have access.
I hope this helps a bit,