Our Facebook and Instagram accounts are technological treasure troves, packed with precious pictures and information. The Troubleshooters sprung into action when some of our viewers complained that their profiles were hijacked by modern-day pirates.
When Courtney Blair was notified that someone tried logging into her Facebook account from a new device, she immediately tried signing in.
"I couldn't put my password in," she said. "It was telling me my password was incorrect."
Courtney was locked out and her account was hijacked by someone in Iraq.
"The email address and password were changed by the person who hacked into my account," she said.
And while pretending to be Courtney, the hijacker contacted her Facebook friends and tried to take over their accounts, too.
"What happens is a contact of mine will get a notification or be invited to a group and they are automatically put in the group," said Courtney. "I think this is what got me into this situation in the first place."
Courtney's Instagram account got hacked, too.
"It feels extremely violating that someone is able to have control of all these things," she said. "It just feels like I am helpless and have no control over the situation."
Courtney called the Troubleshooters after repeated attempts to get help from Facebook failed.
"If this can happen to me, this can happen to anyone," she said.
When Barbara Maskrey's accounts were hijacked, her hair styling business took a huge hit.
"It's very devastating. It was three years of hard work down the drain," she said. "When I saw the email from who hacked me, it was a Russian email."
When Barbara tried to restore her accounts, she ran into the same roadblocks as Courtney.
"It's very frustrating because you can't talk to anybody and there was a form to fill out and I must've filled that form out 40 times," she said.
Internet security expert Rob D'Ovidio says social media accounts get hacked every day all over the world.
"The challenge here is that individuals are attacking your account and they come in as an insider, as a trusted person," said D'Ovidio.
The motive is money. Profile information nets a hefty profit.
D'Ovidio said the number one tip to avoid getting hacked is to engage dual-factor identification.
"In security settings - require a second step to access your account from a new device, meaning a user will have to put in a code that's emailed or texted to your phone," he said. "So no one can get into my account unless they have my cell phone. That's the theory behind it."
As for Courtney and Barbara, they did get their accounts restored after reaching out to the Troubleshooters.
A few more tips: Do not log into websites with your existing Facebook or Google accounts. Instead, set up a new username and password for every website you use and make sure to create a different password for each of your accounts.
Also, leave any groups you didn't ask to join and do not click on links unless you're absolutely sure of the source.
One more tip: Get a password keeper on your phone to keep track of all your information and keep it secure.
"I want to thank you for bringing this to our attention. We have disabled the account and aim to help the rightful owner regain access."
See something that's inappropriate or suspicious? Report it using our guidelines at facebook.com/report
Want to improve the security of your account? Follow the steps outlined at facebook.com/securitycheckup
Think your account is compromised? See facebook.com/hacked
Have a question? Check out facebook.com/help
"We work hard to provide the Instagram community with a safe and secure experience. When we become aware of an account that has been compromised, we shut off access to the account and the people who've been affected are put through a remediation process so they can reset their password and take other necessary steps to secure their accounts."
Instagram's Help Centre has a number of helpful pages with information on how to recover accounts and enable extra security measures (including tips to create a strong password and turn on two factor authentication):
Instagram Security Tips: http://help.instagram.com/369001149843369/
Hacked Accounts: http://help.instagram.com/368191326593075/
We also recently launched a more secure form of two factor authentication, which we encourage the community to enable - more information here: https://instagram-press.com/blog/2018/08/28/new-tools-to-help-keep-instagram-safe/
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