Help! My Instagram got hacked! Don't panic, click through to read our step-by-step guide for what to do next

Last month, not one, but three of my Instagram accounts got hacked. If you've ever experienced this, you know what a sickening feeling it is! All those hours spent curating your feed and building engagement, and suddenly all of that is at the mercy of some anonymous stranger hell bent on destroying your hard work.

If you've found your way to this article because you've just found out your account was hacked, don't panic. Let me walk you through what you need to do next, step by step. Hopefully, at the end of it, you'll have your account back without too much damage done to it. The most important thing is to act fast and not sink into despair.

So, without further ado, let's sort this mess out.

1. Reset your password

If you catch the email telling you that your password has been changed instantly, you may still have time to reset your password before someone takes over your account. Often, hacks are conducted via automated scripts, which means it might be a little while before an actual person starts doing anything nasty with your account. (If you're wondering, that nastiness might look like spamming other users via your account and filling your beautiful gallery with advertising.)

First of all, head over to Instagram and request a password reset. Once you receive the email to reset your password, change it to something secure (we'll get to this later).

When my accounts got hacked, I caught two of the hacks while they were happening and managed to reset my password before anything sinister went down. Unfortunately, I wasn't so lucky with the Her Lovely Heart Instagram account. When I tried to reset my password, Instagram told me my email address wasn't associated with the account, which meant the hacker had managed to change the address on the account before I acted. Queue heart in throat moment.

If this happened to you, move on to the next step.

2. Report your account as hacked

Head over to this Instagram help page and report your account as hacked. You'll have to click the little arrow to expand the section, which says ‘I think my account has been hacked' and then click on the words ‘Report it to us'. For some reason, this link isn't very obvious, but even if it doesn't show up as an active link for you, you should be able to click on it. You'll then be taken through a questionnaire in order to report your account as hacked.

UPDATE 17 March 2017:
Instagram has changed the way you report hacked accounts (plus, for some reason they made it even more difficult to find this information!). If you can't log in, and your email address has been changed, follow the steps on this help page. Basically, you will have to open the app and follow the ‘Get help signing in' protocol and you should be able to report a hacked account that way.

UPDATE 30 March 2017:
From the reports in the comments, it looks that Instagram has removed even the updated method of reporting a hack. I find this quite shocking from a customer service point of view! If anyone manages to contact Instagram regarding their hacked account, please share in the comments how you did it, there are many desperate people trying to find a fix.

UPDATE 22 May 2017:
Do read the comments to see how some people had success with reporting their accounts. I can't personally help anyone, so please don't send me emails or other messages directly about this. I don't have any sort of inside information, I simply shared my experience and since then IG has changed the way things work. I'm leaving this post up because the security measures are still valid for those who haven't been hacked or have managed to get their account back, and because there are comments that might help someone in this process.

It's SUPER important that you list the email address you gave to Instagram when you signed up for the account. I learned the hard way how difficult it is to get any communication from Instagram if you list any other address here. If you are worried that that email address is also vulnerable, secure it first by changing your password.

Once you've sent your report Instagram will email you with a request to send a photo of yourself holding a reference number. For reals. This sounds very strange indeed, but it's their way of determining you are the correct owner of the account (this is why it's good to have at least a few pictures of yourself in your account, whether as your profile pic or posted among your images).

After this, it's a waiting game. If you don't hear anything back in 24 hours, I personally found that polite and kind pestering helped to move things along. There's no reason to be rude, whoever is helping you is just doing their job, but you can press the urgency of the matter in a kind way. Also, once you get your account back, don't forget to thank the person who helped you!

3. Change all your passwords to secure ones

Experiencing being hacked is one of those situations which should make you re-evaluate how seriously you take online security. I would urge you to change all your passwords, whether email accounts, FTP logins, Apple password, everything, to something secure. Make a point of once and for all breaking the habit of using the same password you don't change for years on every account.

4. Use a password manager

To make things easier, I couldn't recommend using a password manager highly enough. Not only will it store all your passwords so you don't have to A) keep them in your head, B) scribble them on random pieces of paper, it also generates super strong passwords for you so you don't have to spend hours thinking of the perfect combination.

I personally use 1Password and love it. You can securely sync your manager with your desktop computer, laptop and your mobile phone, so you'll always have your passwords at hand when you need them. You can also install a browser extension, which will prompt you to let 1Password create a new password for you when you sign up for a new service online.

As well as passwords, you can also save bank account details and secure notes, among other things. In this digital day and age, there's just no excuse to not use one of these babies!

5. Turn on two-factor authentication

Two-factor authentication adds a layer of security to your important accounts. It means that when you log into a service, you'll have to provide your password and an additional one-time code, which might be delivered via a text message or through an app such as Google Authenticator, which works with many different services apart from the obvious Gmail, such as Evernote and Dropbox. Having this second layer of security means that it's impossible for someone to remotely hack your account.

When it comes to Instagram, you can also turn on two-factor authentication. You'll find the option under your settings menu once you've clicked on the cog at the top right corner of your profile.

Help! My Instagram got hacked! Don't panic, click through to read our step-by-step guide for what to do next

Instagram sends you an authentication code via a text message, so you'll have to link your mobile phone number to the account. Even though it sounds like a bit of a hassle, it really isn't, especially if you use Instagram mostly on one device. You'll stay logged in as normal, and only need your password and authentication code if you log in again (or, you know, if you're a nasty hacker trying to get in).

If, like me, you have multiple Instagram accounts, you will run into one problem. You can link one mobile number to only one account. If you try to turn two-factor authentication on for another account with the same mobile number, your first account will have its two-factor auth turned off. Slightly frustrating, no?

I got around this problem by using a service called OnOff.  What OnOff allows you to do, is to have multiple mobile numbers via an app on your phone. It's fairly inexpensive to have an extra number, especially if you don't use it for making actual phone calls, and receiving authentication codes to these numbers works pretty seamlessly. If you wanted, you could use your OnOff numbers even more efficiently, for example having a ‘business number' that you give out, so that you don't have to give your personal mobile number to clients, or list it anywhere on the internet.

Good luck!

I really hope this walkthrough helped you through any possible hacking incident and prompted you to upgrade your online security efforts. Stay safe out there!

Author: Marianne Taylor

Her Lovely Heart founder Marianne Taylor is a photographer, an educator, and a lover of colour & light. Her work has been published in blogs and magazines the world over and her personal photography has been part of an exhibition at Tate Britain. To work with Marianne, see the mentoring services she offers. Or, if you like the photography on HLH, you might want to check out her Product & Lifestyle photography services to see whether you could work together to help your brand grow. She is also slightly obsessed with her two cats, Astrid & Sofia, and loves Instagram.

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62 thoughts on “Help! My Instagram account was hacked! Don’t panic, here’s what to do next.

  1. Did you politely “pester” by replying to the email or just continuing to report the incident? I’m going on well over 24 hours and haven’t hear a peep. It’s very frustrating.

    Posted on September 2, 2016 at 3:40 am
    1. I did both a few times. It took around 3 days to get my access back. Definitely stressful… Hang in there! x

      Posted on September 2, 2016 at 12:34 pm
  2. What about if the hacker has changed the email address!? I can’t reset it because the reset link is to the hackers email address!?

    Posted on March 4, 2017 at 6:47 pm
    1. Then you read onwards and check the next steps out… :)

      Posted on March 8, 2017 at 1:49 pm
      1. It seems that Instagram has changed the page you shared the link to. Under “I think my account has been hacked,” there is no longer any link that says, “Report it to us.” I know you said the link isn’t obvious but I’ve looked all around their help pages and could not find anywhere to report this. I think this is what Heidi is referring to because I’m going through the same process right now. Any suggestions?

        Posted on March 16, 2017 at 6:07 am
        1. I think you’re right. That’s pretty outrageous seeing how difficult they already made getting in touch before! See if they have added a protocol for this into the app, as the article now suggests this help page: https://help.instagram.com/409847499070242 You could try the ‘get help signing in’ process and see if there’s anything helpful there. I’d love to hear how you get on so I can update this article as well!

          Posted on March 16, 2017 at 11:12 am
          1. Thank you! That link got me through the steps to get in contact with Instagram and I have my account back. Much appreciated!

            Posted on March 17, 2017 at 5:26 pm
          2. Phew! That’s fantastic news. I don’t understand why they want to make people jump through such hoops at a time that’s pretty tough emotionally anyways! I’m glad you got your account back in any case. :)

            Posted on March 17, 2017 at 6:33 pm
          3. doesn’t work anymore :( when i click “Don’t have access to any of these?” on android it just shows this page https://help.instagram.com/358911864194456 which basically says if the thief changed your e-mail and facebook account (which is obviously NOT the first thing you do after stealing anyone’s accout, duh) you are screwed because they want to be sure instagram accounts won’t fall into wrong hands :P

            Posted on March 23, 2017 at 9:26 pm
          4. Hmm weird. Are you sure going via the app doesn’t work? That help page says ‘can’t access the email address you used to sign up’ so to me that still says that they should be able to help as long as you have access to the original address?

            Posted on March 24, 2017 at 4:53 pm
        2. I’m in the exact same situation as you, please let me know whether you’ve had any luck in finding a solution to resolve this problem, thank you!

          Posted on March 16, 2017 at 6:24 pm
          1. Follow the steps at this link that Marianne provided me: https://help.instagram.com/409847499070242

            Posted on March 17, 2017 at 5:28 pm
  3. I’m in this exact same situation :( i can’t see any way to contact them about a hacked account. tried through their Facebook account, Twitter and I even tried reporting it through a ‘my account has been memorialised’ report – but they responded saying they won’t help as I’ve come through the wrong channel! Giving me a link to a pretty useless page about being hacked!

    Posted on March 17, 2017 at 2:14 pm
    1. That’s just shocking! Surely they must reinstate the ability to report a hacked account, it just does not make any sense to me. Did you reply to their email saying the link to report is not there? Any response?

      Posted on March 17, 2017 at 2:16 pm
      1. I’m now at the same situation and I don’t even know how to conctact Instagram and report it

        Posted on March 24, 2017 at 3:03 pm
    2. Follow the steps at this link that Marianne provided me: https://help.instagram.com/409847499070242

      Posted on March 17, 2017 at 5:27 pm
  4. Hi, I was hoping you would have the answers but Instagram don’t have any way you contact them now. How did you do it?

    Posted on March 24, 2017 at 4:39 pm
    1. Did you try to updated method? Can you share what happens when you do?

      Posted on March 24, 2017 at 4:56 pm
      1. I tried the other method but it doesn’t get any solution. It doesn’t even have option of hacked account.

        Posted on March 24, 2017 at 6:37 pm
        1. Hi Anna,

          i’m in exactly the same position – the hacker has changed the email address and now I cannot log in or change password. No one is replying from Instagram via Facebook, Insta or Twitter. What appalling customer service from Instagram :(

          Did you get anywhere in the end?

          Posted on April 18, 2017 at 11:20 am
  5. Hi Marianne,

    I’m Sherwin from Malaysia. I really liked your post and currently undergoing the ‘waiting period’. I had sent my image to the instagram team on what they had been stated but i have yet to receive any responds from them for 2 days long. What should i do?

    Posted on March 25, 2017 at 4:57 am
    1. Can you list the steps you used to get to that waiting period? My account got hacked and the email was changed and now they are posting pictures provocative pictures of women with my picture still being the main profile pic. It’s so embarrassing and I’m having trouble like everyone else reporting my account hacked. I’m starting to dislike Instagram. Their help page is so unhelpful for a situation like this.

      Posted on March 29, 2017 at 12:07 pm
  6. My email and username have been changed and under the i think ive been hacked there is nothing saying “Report it to us” can someone please help with this

    Posted on March 26, 2017 at 9:09 pm
    1. Did you try the updated method via the app?

      Posted on March 26, 2017 at 9:14 pm
      1. my username and email were changed and I am assuming my phone too cause it said it sent me a link but did not receive any of them

        Posted on March 26, 2017 at 9:40 pm
      2. how can I contact them?

        Posted on March 26, 2017 at 10:26 pm
        1. I don’t work for Instagram or have any insider knowledge, I simply shared my experience and unfortunately IG have since changed the way to contact them on this. The latest I know is that some people had success with going through the ‘Get help signing in’ protocol via the app, and shared in the comments that there was a way to report a hacked account there. If that has now changed, I don’t unfortunately have any further tips at this point. Do let us know if you find a different way, though!

          Posted on March 26, 2017 at 10:43 pm
          1. Hi , my 440k account just got hacked with people asking me to pay $200 over paypal to recover it. I was shocked at the anonymity of instagram. You literally have to look everywhere. I have tried over the app to get help signing in and just hope the hackers don’t start deleting things. At this point I have no control over this. But I received a quick mail stating that I should send a pic with my handle and “pin code” which they sent to verify that I am the owner. It has been over 4 hrs and hearing the waiting days here… I don’t look forward to the wait. Wish they still have their hack form up or a quicker way to recover or block the account before anything can be done. Such an annoying situation…

            Posted on March 30, 2017 at 12:33 am
          2. Uhh it’s such a horrible feeling, I’m sorry you’re going through this as well! So, you managed to report it via the ‘help signing in’ method? I wonder why that doesn’t woek for some people… perhaps there’s a difference between iOS and others.

            Posted on March 30, 2017 at 12:54 am
  7. Hi! My Instagram just got hacked. They are posting pornographic pics and I have so many of my children’s friends that follow my account :( I have reported it a bunch of times. Tried all of the suggestions on your page but it just keeps sending me in circles. They have changed the Instagram name, email, and even the phone number now. It still has all of my pictures on the account as well. I am sick!! Do you have any other suggestions? Thanks in advance

    Posted on March 29, 2017 at 4:40 am
    1. That’s so frustrating, I’m sorry it’s happening to you too. I don’t unfortunately have any further info at this point. Did you manage to go through the ‘Get help signing in’ and report a hack?

      Posted on March 29, 2017 at 12:09 pm
      1. I’m in the same situation as the people above. I have tried the “help signing in” thing, but it doesn’t give the option to report an hacked account or anything…

        Posted on March 29, 2017 at 5:22 pm
        1. That’s so frustrating! I’m sorry to hear you’re also going through this. I hope someone will figure out the (yet again) altered way of reporting and updates us here.

          Posted on March 29, 2017 at 5:31 pm
  8. Hi, thanks for the post.
    I found that instagram has taken out the ability to report your hacked account entirely.
    Since my instagram was hacked, and both the password and email were changed, I haven’t found any solution so far.
    The app doesn’t provide the link of “Get help signing in”.
    So I’ve just reported my entire account from the page for reporting behavior that is against community guidelines.
    Anyone have a decent solution?

    Posted on March 31, 2017 at 12:48 pm
    1. I know, it’s just so disappointing from them! Let us know if you manage to get any help from them. xo

      Posted on March 31, 2017 at 1:50 pm
  9. I have am a victim of this recent Instagram hack as well. Reading everyone’s post makes me want to cry as I’ve also tried reaching out to instragram over 7 times now. Filing report in ever section possible, sent in a photo with me and 2 IDs. And they still response with the self generated response ” this avenue is for “x” reason. If you have been hacked please follow the steps outlined here” which everyone knows doesnt work! ….

    sooo frustrating as Instagram probably knows there is a huge issues happening right now and they have completely removed any way of reporting to them so they don’t have to deal with the millions of people trying to reach them.

    Customer service is terrible. They should just admit they have been hacked themselves and let the public know they are trying to fit it vs. Sending bullshit auto generated emails to not help anyone!!!!

    My account has been hacked. Username. Email. Profile photo all changed so I have “zero” access back in. Any like another lady posted. The hacker has posted terrible phonographic photos on my account yet has kept my private photos as well. So now the world can see these awful photos associated with my life!!!!!! :(

    Intragram = # Fail!!!!!

    Posted on April 2, 2017 at 12:12 pm
    1. I feel so so sorry for you! I really don’t understand how they can get away with this, it’s so heartbreaking how many people are having to go through this without any help from IG. It really beggars belief! I so hope someone stumbles upon a solution soon. xo

      Posted on April 2, 2017 at 3:19 pm
  10. This has just happened to my work account. It’s a growing business and since I started I have worked hard to increase our Instagram following so it feels like hard work down the drain. As we all know how difficult it is to grow an Instagram following. I have been in contact via the ‘help getting signed in’ part and sent a request but heard nothing since. How long did they take to contact you? I’m worried even if they do contact me how they will verify our account as it’s just imagery of our products, flat lay stuff, lifestyle imagery & our brands etc. No faces to identity. Any info would be appreciated. Just want them to hurry up and contact me, so much stress :(

    Posted on April 6, 2017 at 3:43 pm
    1. Did you manage to report it, though? I wonder if there’s a different process for iOS and Android as some people seem to not be able to… I hope you’ll hear back from them soon, it was probably around 24 hours for me.

      Posted on April 6, 2017 at 5:31 pm
      1. I did manage to report the incident via the android app in the updated method you listed. I heard back from them this morning asking to send proof of our company. So I did but I received an error message from my email server saying the email has been rejected / failed in sending. I feel at such a loss now. If I cannot contact them with this proof then I will no be able to get our business account back :(

        Posted on April 7, 2017 at 1:19 pm
    2. I tried again by submitting a report to the personal violation team and got the same AUTOGENERAGED response. I emailed and cussed them out for not HAVING REAL PEOPLE HELP…and so I got a response from someone saying to submit eveidence, so i did and of course got a bounce back email saying it wasn’t a valid email address and returned mail back to sender!! Wtf!

      I’ve lost all hope and respect for Instagram. I sent them a screen shot of their own hacking page to prove there is no where to submit a report. Tired of their bullshit.

      My family and friends have reported the profile enough times that they have finally taken it down. My account is gone forever 😖 Don’t think I will ever support Instagram ever again for anything.

      #instagramfail

      Posted on April 6, 2017 at 6:37 pm
      1. That’s so heartbreaking! Hopefully, it’s not gone forever and they might be able to recover it if you ever manage to make contact… Have you tried their Twitter?

        Posted on April 6, 2017 at 6:42 pm
  11. You are the only blog I’ve found with an update as of March 2017, that Instagram has discontinued this “report a hack” issue. I suppose so many people were doing that process, that they got rid of it. This is so frustrating to me, as I’m trying to re-brand my blog name and company!!! I created a new account with the new name so no one would take it–now I can’t use it or resolve the matter. I’m hoping writing to them with a written letter will work– it did when my blog posts we’re reported on facebook, I wrote to HQ. If I can’t long in within 3 days I’ll hand write. Thanks.

    Posted on April 6, 2017 at 9:00 pm
    1. Do let us know how you get on!

      Posted on April 6, 2017 at 9:03 pm
  12. Hey, I posted a comment a week or ago a so! Good news, Instagram NOW HAS an option to report an hacked account through the updated method! Thank god! I just sent in a report, fingers crossed.

    Posted on April 8, 2017 at 1:21 am
    1. It’s hidden, that’s why people, and me couldn’t find it… But what you have to do is… when the screen pops up telling you to log in, click “Get help with signing in.” Where it says “username” you have to type in the username and press “send log in link” or hit the enter button, otherwise if you click “Other issues” the option to report an hacked account won’t come up. So, guys, you have to type in the username or email address of the account and PRESS send log in link, THEN after press “Other issues”… a whole new page will pop up asking you what the issue is and the option to report an hacked account appears there. I received an email shortly after sending in a report… so, fingers crossed. Hope this helps everyone!

      Posted on April 8, 2017 at 1:53 am
      1. Hi David,

        Didn’t work for me. Do you have android or iOS?

        I have iOS. When I followed your steps the pop up always bring up the page “What can I do if I’ve lost access to the email I signed up with?” no where does it give you an option to report a hack. Hummm

        Posted on April 8, 2017 at 2:23 am
        1. Hey, I used an IOS too. I don’t understand what’s happening then. But for me, all I did was press “get help signing in” then where it says username/password, I entered my username then pressed “send log in link.” If like me, your account has been hacked and deactivated by the hacker, it might say “user not found”. After I did this, underneath where it says “Other issues?” I pressed that and a whole new page, the page should be pink, the same colour as the page before popped up and it gave me the option to report the account through there. I have reported the account now and IG has emailed me telling to give them the email address I used to sign up with that account. I suppose it’s a waiting game now. Those were the exact steps that I took. If the option to report an hack doesn’t pop up then I honestly do not know why that is. It seems like IG are trying their best to hide the option to report an account. But it’s hidden in plain sight, lol.

          Posted on April 8, 2017 at 1:44 pm
          1. Thanks David!

            I was able to somehow get it to work as well. But I had to first sign up for Instagram again. Once the hacker took over my account we reported my account enough times that they finally took it down. This enabled my username to become free again. So i signed up with my same name but different email this time and went through the steps as if I didn’t have access(your directions). A pink screen in the Instagram app showed with the option to report a hack! I got an email response with them asking me to take a photo of myself with a secret code written on a piece of paper. I guess proof that you are who you are! I’m going to ask for my old account back if possible.

            Keep us posted on your next steps. I’ll do the same. Hopefully we can get this resolved and help everyone else.

            Posted on April 8, 2017 at 2:28 pm
          2. I just got this to work thanks to your instructions David! You are correct that it only works if you type your username, then click “send login link” THEN click “other issues.” I can’t believe how difficult they have made this! I just submitted the report, so fingers crossed! How did you make out David? Have you gained access?

            Posted on April 10, 2017 at 5:12 am
          3. Hi David,

            I’ve had no luck :(

            I replied back to the email they sent with a confirmation number asking for a photo and got a bounce back “messsge failed, return to sender” same thing I was getting before.

            How about you?
            Seems like they still have some glitches to work out.

            Posted on April 10, 2017 at 2:02 pm
          4. I have had the same issue’s.
            Our business account has been hacked since last Thursday. Having submitted reports to Instagram and replied with proof of our company our emails keep getting rejected. I tried reporting using another email for contact method and again the email gets rejected. At a loss now. We were just starting to build a following for our online shop and this happened. Seems almost pointless starting from scratch again but might be the only option now. I find this outrageous how impossible Instagram are to contact. I’ve tried messaging on Facebook, Twitter, The Facebook ad community and all with no reply. Or like I said no way of actually sending the email back to them. If anyone has any more ideas please let me know how you get on.

            Posted on April 11, 2017 at 11:26 am
          5. Hi,
            I managed to send a support issue as well… the ‘other issues’ is very well hidden, a small text just below the “send link” button. Fingers crossed for a happy ending now

            thx

            Bart

            Posted on April 28, 2017 at 1:06 pm
      2. Thank you for your post! I just followed your instructions and hope to hear back from them. Someone stole my account 4 days ago and renamed it “Denise Gibbs”…which now I see seems to have happened to many others, if you search that user name. Then, I opened another account in my original user name and it, too, was stolen within 12 hours. I even had the authenticity feature on that one, so I received codes on my cell phone but that did not stop them.
        I am really disappointed that Instagram does not have better security on this app. I know so many people that use it for business. Is there some sort of protection app that can be used with Instagram to protect of from hackers??

        Posted on April 11, 2017 at 7:26 pm
        1. Susann, the same thing happened to mine! If I am able to get it back this time, I will have to change the username :(

          Posted on April 23, 2017 at 6:25 pm
      3. David,
        Thankyou so much! I was finally able to report mine as well. I have been so stressed because of the pics of my kids on mine. Now I am waiting to hear back from IG.
        Marianne, thankyou for starting this post, I kept checking back hoping someone would have a solution. Now hopefully I get my account back!

        Posted on April 23, 2017 at 6:20 pm
    2. That’s wonderful! Thank you so much for the update, David!

      Posted on April 8, 2017 at 1:47 pm
  13. My account hot hacker 2013, still No Word from them, and I’ve been trying to get any support every now and then… but not a single peep from Instagram… if anyone could help me find a way, I would gladly pay for it. Thank you

    Posted on April 21, 2017 at 8:57 am
  14. My Account was Hacked for the second time! I just got it back since it was Hacked last week but now its Hacked again.I tried to follow the link Marriane posted but there is nothing on it.

    Posted on May 2, 2017 at 12:27 pm
    1. Mine got hacked this morning too. Is there a way to contact instagram? I’m using android, but to no avail. I tried doing what David has suggested but somehow I could not get to report it. When I logged in using my facebook, it created a new account under the same email, since my email was changed. Help :(

      Posted on May 3, 2017 at 1:00 am
      1. did you get the help of your account?

        Posted on May 7, 2017 at 1:37 am
  15. Hello Marianne,
    My Instagram account was hacked and the hacker removed all my pics,renamed the account to his name and removed my email that was linked to the account.
    Now how can i retrieve it?

    Posted on May 7, 2017 at 1:36 am