7 On Your Side: Hack-proofing your social media account

NEW YORK (WABC) -- Chances are it's happened to you or someone you know. A hacker takes control of your social media account, barraging your followers with scam offers while using your name.

It's called "Profile Hijacking" and the FTC says it's on the rise.

"I was totally hijacked," victim Tiffany Jones said.

Jones was flying from LA to Miami when hackers hijacked her Instagram account.

"It's the most frustrating thing, because it's not me," Jones said.

She's horrified because more than 30,000 followers of her non-profit page, Pink Chose Me, are being hit up hard for money while she's totally blocked from her own account.

"This morning, I got another DM," she said. "No one gave money, but they're in conversation acting as me, asking people to donate to Bitcoin. And it's my foundation. It's Pink Chose Me. This is not what we do. We are women. It's a cancer foundation."

A three-time breast cancer survivor, Jones shared her journey on "Love in the City," a reality series that aired the Oprah Winfrey Network.

"When I was first diagnosed, the first oncologist told me I had six months, six months to live," Jones said.

She founded Pink Chose Me to stress early detection and empower other survivors.

But now, those inspired by her are succumbing to strange solicitation -- like the last post asking followers to DM their cash app tags quick to win a $1,000 giveaway.

What's worse is the hacker stole her email and phone number too, following up with texts. One friend entered the fake contest.

"If I could find these scammers, first I would like to slap them," she said.

She tried for weeks to get help from Instagram to recover her page on her own before connecting with 7 On Your Side.

We got our contacts at Facebook on the case.

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"Oh my God, you guys showed up immediately the following day," Jones said. "The nightmare is over."

Within 24 hours, Pink Chose Me was back in her control.

"I am forever a supporter of 7 On Your Side," she said.

Some big takeaways to secure your social media:

First, enable two-factor authentication. This extra protection also notifies you if someone tries to log into your account.

Next, update your account phone and email. If there is a hack Instagram will need to get in touch with you.

Finally, remember that Instagram and Facebook will never send you a direct message. If you see one it's a scammers spoof.

For information on how to keep your account safe, visit: https://about.instagram.com/blog/announcements/keeping-instagram-safe-and-secure.

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The pair had gotten nowhere with recouping the $1,000 each they say they were owed until they called Nina Pineda and 7 On Your Side.



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