If your social media account has posts you didn’t make, you can’t log in, your sent folder has been emptied, or your family and friends are getting messages that you didn’t send, chances are your account has been hacked. According to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), here are the steps you should take in order to recover your social media or email account, and what to do immediately once you recover your account.
- Update your security software
The first step you should take is to update your security. Use the security software that comes on your phone, computer, or tablet or download software from a reputable security company. Next, run the software to scan your device for malware. If the scan identifies suspicious software, delete it, and restart your device.
- Reset your passwords
If you are able to log into your email or social media account, change your passwords immediately. If you use the same or similar passwords for different accounts, reset them too. Be sure to create strong passwords and not to use the same password for all of your accounts. In the case you are unable to log into your account, check to see how your email provider or social media platform can help you. Many email providers and social media platforms such as Instagram, Facebook and Twitter, give advice on how you can recover your account. For more resources and information on recovering specific platforms, visit the National Cybersecurity Alliance’s website on hacked accounts.
- Set up multi-factor authentication
Check to see if your email or social media account lets you turn on multi-factor authentication. This provides your account with an extra layer of security as it requires a password or a code from an authenticator app.
If you are able to get back into your account, here is what you should check.
- Account Settings
Be on the lookout for unfamiliar links added to your account settings. Make sure the hacker didn’t set up forwarding emails, which would automatically forward messages you receive to the hacker. On your social media account, look at your account history and if there are new friends the hacker might have added to your account.
- Check your Inbox
Look through your inbox for information the hacker could have seen. Hackers look for information that can help them find usernames and passwords to important sites such as your online banking account. If you feel like you are at risk, change your username and password for your important accounts immediately. If you are a customer of Central Bank, this would be a great time to use our Card Lock feature. Card Lock is a security feature which allows you to block new authorizations on your credit or debit cards. If there’s an attempt to make a purchase, we’ll send you (the cardholder) an alert.
- Review Account Activity
Look through sent and deleted messages in your email and social media account. This will make you aware of what the hacker was sending through your account and what information was exposed. If you find that the hacker misused your private information such as your Social Security number, report it. Contact IdentityTheft.gov if you find you’re at risk.
Once you have changed your passwords and reviewed your account, make sure to tell your friends, family, and colleagues you were hacked. Make sure they know to not click on links that were sent by “you” or to interact with the scams sent from your social media or email account. In the future, make sure you are being safe while using your online accounts, don’t click on any unfamiliar links, and don’t give out your information if someone asks you for your username and password.