You receive a notification that the password to your favorite social media account has been changed. Naturally, you try to log in to confirm and you can no longer access your account. You have no idea what the hacker is doing with your account but are sure the criminal is up to no good. Your reputation, identity, and personal information are now at stake and you need to do something urgently to recover your account.
Signs your social media account is hacked
Some hackers don’t necessarily log you out and block you from your social media account. They hope to use your account without arousing suspicion. You may be accessing a hacked account if you aren’t keen enough.
Watch out for the following tell-tale signs of a hacked account:
- The Sent folder has strange messages you didn’t send, or have been cleared
- Your friends and family have received emails or messages you didn’t send. Such messages often have random links or are fake pleas for money or help.
- Your account has posts you didn’t make
- Your account gets logged out while still in use.
Immediate Action to Take Once Confirming Your Account Has Been Hacked
Once you have confirmed your account has been hacked, the following steps will help ensure you can recover your hacked account:
- Stay Calm. While it’s natural to feel alarmed, staying calm will help you make clear decisions and act swiftly.
- Check If You Can Still Sign In. Attempt to sign in to your account. If the hacker has changed your password, you might be locked out. If you can still sign in, proceed to the next steps. If not, initiate account recovery following the platform’s guidelines.
- Change Passwords. Change the password for the compromised account immediately. Make sure to choose a strong, unique password containing a mix of letters, numbers, and special characters. Avoid using easily guessable information like birthdays or common words.
- Claim Password. If your account’s password has been changed by the hacker, use the platform’s account recovery or password reset process. This often involves verifying your identity through an email or mobile number associated with the account.
- Report Compromised Account. Inform the platform or service provider that your account has been compromised. They might have specific protocols in place to help you recover your account and secure it.
- Remove Active Sessions. Some platforms allow you to view and terminate active sessions from different devices. This helps ensure that the hacker is logged out of your account on all devices.
- Check for Unusual Activity. Review your account activity for any unauthorized actions, such as unusual login locations or unfamiliar posts/messages. This can give you a better understanding of what the hacker might have done.
- Tighten Up Security Settings. Update your security settings to enhance your account’s protection. Enable two-factor authentication (2FA) if available, which adds an extra layer of security by requiring a verification code in addition to your password.
- Scan for Malware. Run a thorough scan of your device with reputable antivirus or anti-malware software to ensure that your device isn’t compromised, leading to repeated breaches.
- Let Others Know. If your hacked account was used to send spam or suspicious messages, inform your contacts about the situation. This will help prevent others from falling victim to potential scams.
- Monitor Other Accounts. If you’ve reused passwords across multiple accounts, change those passwords as well to prevent further unauthorized access. Consider using a password manager to generate and store strong, unique passwords.
- Educate Yourself. Learn from the incident. Understand how the breach happened and take steps to avoid similar situations in the future, such as being cautious about clicking on suspicious links and keeping your software updated.
How to recover your social media account
When you realize you can no longer access your social media account, or see abnormalities such as strange messages and posts you didn’t make, or a cleared Sent folder, you may have fallen victim to social media scams.
Your next course of action should be getting back into your account. To recover your hacked social media account, these steps can help you out:
- Scan and delete any malware on your device: Some hackers use malware to fish for your login credentials, so be sure to scan your device using reliable anti-malware software, and delete any unwanted software found.
- Change your password or use the “forgot password” option to regain access: Change your passwords immediately if you can still access your account after being hacked. If you’ve been logged out, use the “forgot password” option, or follow guidelines on how to recover your account.
- Set up multi-factor authentication: To prevent future hacking of your account, add another layer of security to your credentials by setting up multi-factor authentication. This may include having a code sent to your phone number or email to authenticate every login.
Do this once you’re back in your account
Once you successfully get back into your social media account, it’s time to assess the situation to prevent further damage. The following steps can help you:
- Check your account settings: Look for changes to your account settings since you last logged in, such as any new friends or links added. Be sure to restore everything to your preferred state.
- Take a look at your inbox: Hackers fish for credentials to important sites in your inbox. You’ll need to change them if you have any in your inbox.
- Track hacker activity: Check out the Sent, Trash and Deleted Folders for a clue to what the hacker was up to. See if the hacker sent any emails or messages using your account, and deleted them.
- Report misused information at identityTheft.gov: If the hacker sent any messages from your account for fraudulent purposes, be sure to let the authorities know.
- Alert your friends: Let all your friends know your social media account is hacked, so they can disregard any posts or messages the hacker might have sent them.
How to Activate Two-Factor Authentication on Social Media Accounts
Two-factor authentication (2FA) adds an extra layer of security to your online accounts by requiring you to provide a second piece of information in addition to your password when logging in. This could be a verification code sent to your mobile device or email. Here’s how to activate 2FA for Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Google:
- Log in to your Facebook account.
- Click on the down arrow in the top-right corner and select “Settings & Privacy” > “Settings.”
- In the left sidebar, click on “Security and Login.”
- Under the “Two-Factor Authentication” section, click “Edit” next to “Use two-factor authentication.”
- Choose your preferred method for receiving codes (text message, authentication app, or security key).
- Follow the on-screen instructions to complete the setup.
- Open the Instagram app and go to your profile.
- Tap the three horizontal lines in the top-right corner and select “Settings.”
- Under the “Security” section, tap on “Two-Factor Authentication.”
- Choose your preferred method for receiving codes (text message or authentication app).
- Follow the prompts to set up and verify 2FA.
- Log in to your Twitter account.
- Click on your profile picture in the top-right corner and select “Settings and privacy.”
- In the left sidebar, click on “Account.”
- Scroll down to the “Security” section and click on “Two-factor authentication.”
- Click “Set up” and choose your preferred method for receiving codes (text message or authentication app).
- Follow the steps to complete the setup
- Log in to your Google Account.
- Click on your profile picture in the top-right corner and select “Manage your Google Account.”
- In the left sidebar, click on “Security.”
- Under the “Signing in to Google” section, click on “2-Step Verification.”
- Click “Get Started” and follow the on-screen instructions to set up 2FA using your preferred method (text message, voice call, or authentication app).
- Once set up, you can choose whether to use 2FA every time you log in or only when there’s a new device.
Protect your social media account from hackers
Always ensure all your social media accounts are protected from potential hackers through the use of strong passwords, multi-factor authentication, and safeguarding personal information. PeopleFinders has all the information you need to keep your accounts safe. Contact us for more details.