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Valley family fights for access to social media account after being hacked, locked out

Posted at 5:00 AM, Jan 05, 2022
and last updated 2022-01-05 12:26:13-05

Social media accounts being hacked and taken over by scammers is a trend that's on the rise, and it doesn't appear anyone is immune from being a target.

"It's not just Instagram. It's not just Facebook. It's Twitter. It's LinkedIn," said Chris Hills, the chief security strategist at BeyondTrust, a firm that helps other companies protect sensitive information.

Hills said if you are using any type of online account, you could be a target.

In the past, fraudulent and spam links would come mostly in email form, but now they can be posted on a hacked account getting more daily attention and more money for scammers.

"When you multiply all the different social media platforms by the amount of people that use the social media platforms, you can easily see why it is a huge target," said Hills.

One of those targets was a Valley mom whose husband, Justin, tells us she never thought she'd get locked out, only sharing pictures for family and friends.

"I'm just like, what are they doing with the pictures of my kids?" said Justin.

He says at first his wife tried a password reset, but it didn't work. She then tried following the "how-to" guides provided by Instagram.

"She sent a picture of herself like, so they could, you know, say, "Oh, the picture of you matches the picture on your Instagram pictures,"" said Justin.

But even that didn't work, so he tried getting the attention of Instagram's CEO on Twitter. However, instead of getting his attention, he was messaged by scammers promising to get the account back. They ghosted him after he sent $150.

"There's literally no way to talk to a real person with Instagram," said Justin.

We asked Instagram how they're combating hackers and how the family can get access to the photo, they never responded.

To protect yourself:

Use different passwords for each account when possible. Apps like Bitwarden, Lastpass, and 1Password can help you remember.

Also, turn on two-factor authentication. If you set this up before the hackers get in, they can't lock you out without having your phone.