I recently had my blog’s Instagram account cloned. To say that I was upset, worried and furious is an understatement! Within the Instagram Influencer world, there has been a huge surge in the number of Instagram accounts being hacked into or cloned. This is a guide of what to do if your Instagram account is cloned.
Why Do Instagram Accounts Get Cloned Or Hacked
Unfortunately most of the time when an account is hacked, the influencer ends up losing their account completely. The hackers seem to target those with a high number of followers (Over 10k). In some cases they contact the influencer and request money to give the account back, holding the account to ransom. However, sometimes they don’t even do that; the account just gets shut down.
However, it appears that Instagram accounts that run competitions or Giveaway are the ones being targeted to be cloned, regardless of the size of the account (mine only has 6k). The cloned account takes the top few recent pictures, copies the profile image and bio, and makes the new username almost exactly the same as the real account. They then go and follow loads of your followers who then follow them back thinking it’s you. They then go on a spamming spree contacting all the entrants to your Giveaway, telling them they have won the Giveaway and asking them to click on a link or provide contact details. It’s only when someone who knows you really well, or one of the giveaway entrants contacts you to tell you about the cloned account that you find out. In my case, they were stupid enough to follow my other accounts so I was able to see it quite quickly.
Disclaimer: Unfortunately, sometimes Instagram has no way (apparently) of being able to tell which account is the real one and ends up shutting both accounts down. Luckily this did not happen to me.
Here’s what to do if your Instagram account is cloned:
- Immediately take a screenshot of the fake account. If you have been blocked by the account that has cloned you, ask your friends or family to find it and send you a screenshot of it.
2. Change your password immediately.
3. Change your profile picture to be able to distinguish between your real account and the fake account. It would also help if you were to add another grid post too so that your real account appears different straight away.
4. Ask as many people as you can, friends, family, followers etc to find the cloned account and report it to Instagram from within the app. It’s important that they report it as “Impersonating someone you know“, rather than just blocking it. Here are the steps to do this:
Go on to the profile > Click the 3 dots on the top right-hand corner > Report > It’s inappropriate > Report Account > It’s pretending to be someone else.
Once you’ve reported it, the fake account will automatically be blocked by the account reporting it.
5. Once you’ve done that, go into the Instagram Help Centre and find the option to Report Impersonation Account. You can do this on your phone, or on a computer. Instagram will then give you the step by step instructions of what to do to report either someone impersonating you, or you can ask your friends and family to do this step to report someone they know is being impersonated.
You will be required to fill in an online form, giving details related to your name, email address (the one linked to the account), your real username, and the username of the fake account you are reporting. You will also need to send a photo of yourself holding up some form of ID to authenticate yourself (I used my driver’s license).
What Happens Next
I would encourage you to ask one person not to report this so that you can get them to keep checking if the account is still active or not. I reported mine on a Friday and it was only taken down on the Monday. However, other instagram influencers who I know have had the same thing happen have had the cloned account deleted within a few hours.
What else could you do:
In the meantime, you could also edit the Giveaway post to make a note telling people who are entering not to accept reports of winners until the end of the Giveaway and advising them that your Instagram account is cloned.
You should also put an appeal on your InstaStories explaining what has happened and asking people to help report the account that is impersonating you. People are very kind and we all are happy to help each other fight the hackers and stand up to them.
Other Ways To Secure Your Instagram Account
There are a few other things you can do to secure your Instagram Account which I would strongly suggest everyone does anyway, don’t wait for your account to be targeted.
- Download your Data: Settings > Security > Download Data > Request Download. This will send a copy of your account data to your email address. I would recommend you do this on a regular basis. It is basically a backup of your account.
- Ensure you have two-factor authentication enabled on your account. This is an added layer of security on your account. It means that when you sign in to your account, Instagram will send a code to your registered cell number or email which you then have to input before you can log in to the account.
- Delete and do not use third-party apps that have access to your account. Apps that give you reports on followers and unfollowers are notoriously bad for this, as well as any scheduling apps that are not approved Instagram partners.
- Change your password on a regular basis.
- Don’t participate in Loops or other such activity in order to gain loads of followers – many of these are targeted by the hackers.
- Don’t play the follow unfollow game, or unfollow loads of people at one time as this can make your account appear to be spammy.
I hope this has helped. I do wish that Instagram would sort this problem out and provide better support and assistance to those who are targeted. Whilst Instagram Influencers do what they do because they love it, it’s also part of their business and to loose accounts that have taken time and dedication to build up is devastating to the influencer, who, at the end of the day is an actual person too.
Please be vigilant on Social Media. I hope that this advice of what to do if your Instagram Account is cloned has been useful. Please feel free to share this with those who might find it useful.