“The door that was closed to you, can be opened once again; you just need the right key... ~ Jacqueline A. Hinds ~
On Monday, 10th February 2020 my Linked account got hacked!!
Now, if any of you have ever had your business website, LinkedIn account or any other social media account hacked, you will definitely know how this felt.
It all started when I noticed messages popping up on my LinkedIn account. I went into the messages inbox and saw there were quite a few messages that seemed to have been sent from me to quite a few connections, with a document attached to it. So, I decided to open one of the messages sent to read what it said.
The message with the attached document read “Hi… we are overwhelmed with a project and could do with extra hands and someone with your expertise to take some of the workload off our hands.” It went on to instruct the individual to download the document and then feedback to them if they were interested. Some contacts responded that they could not open the document and, asked it to be sent to their email address… This was met with a response (from the hacker) that it would be best if they downloaded it!!
Now, I was really confused, because some of the responses that were given looked like they were coming from me. I know I had never seen this document before and, more to the point, had not sent it to any of my contacts who were now sitting in my LinkedIn message box responding! I quickly went into each message and sent all those contacts who had received the document the following message… “Please don’t open the attached document, it was not sent by me. I have been hacked!” It took the best part of the day going into each message (and trust me there were loads) and pasting the same message to them. Some individuals came back and said thank you for informing me. A couple of contacts came back and said “I have now reported you to LinkedIn” even though I’d sent them a message informing them that it was not actually sent by me and, that my account had been hacked.
Anyway, long story short, when I managed to send the messages to everyone who had been affected by this hack; I logged out of LinkedIn in order to try and refresh my profile. When I tried to log back into my profile, I was unceremoniously locked out of LinkedIn!
Herein lies my trials and tribulations of gaining access and, from the 10th of February until late into the night on the 18th February 2020, I was completely locked out of my LinkedIn profile. I lost count of how many emails I sent via their automated system to get answers as to when I could be allowed back onto my profile. Each time, I tried to send a message through to ascertain how my case was coming along, I was sent an automated response asking me ( once again) to upload my ID, which was either my driver’s license or my passport. Once done, I received another automated confirmation of receipt informing me that someone in the LinkedIn Customer Support team would get back to me.
This happened four times, with the same things happening, it seemed very much a ‘Groundhog Day’ scenario, where everything I did to try and comply with their protocol, seemed to just loop me right back to the beginning.
Was I frustrated? Hell, yes! I was very frustrated and fuming! I was especially upset, because LinkedIn support team were not responding to me… I know you would be angry too if you had to go through this for over a week?
What was it like you ask?
Well… I truly felt as if I was out in the cold. You see, I spent years building my LinkedIn profile to where it is today. It wasn’t so much the number of connections, recommendations, endorsements or, the accomplishments; it was the fact that I had business clients and contacts who could not get hold of me. What hurt more than anything else, was the fact that it just seemed as if I didn’t exist anymore, or that I was never there… and that thought really hurt!
These unsavoury acts by hackers has such a profound affect on individuals’ lives and businesses; they take such great pleasure in their deeds, which ultimately #disrupts, #destroys, #defrauds and #discredits their unwitting victims. Once lost it is so hard to reclaim your standing in this respect. Having to rebuild your online life, business and reputation is no mean feat.
So, you’re probably wondering… How did it work out for me in the in the end?
Well… some friends (thank you sooo much) reached out to @LinkedInHelp on my behalf and thankfully got a quick response from them, with another link, which was different to the previous ones received, asking that I complete and submit the form to them, which I did, uploading my passport yet again. As I did so, I offered up prayers that this time there will be a breakthrough, all I could do was just patiently wait for them to respond.
At this juncture, it had been a whole nine days that I had disappeared from LinkedIn. During this time, I had been getting texts and email messages asking me why I had disappeared from LinkedIn. Apparently, people were searching for me to tag me and found no trace that I was ever there…
They finally sent me a link with a code that was sent to my mobile phone, I inserted the code when prompted and, lo and behold I gained access to my LinkedIn profile once again.
Anyway, I’m back online now and, felt I needed to write something about being left out in the cold. Frozen out, treated very much as persona non grata, in fact, all of the above and more. It really felt as if ‘they’ didn’t believe I was who I said I was even after furnishing them with my ID when asked…! I’m grateful for all those who came to my aid in this hour of desperation and need.
This whole incident has taught me a very valuable lesson… Not to put all my eggs into one media basket!!
I’m no cybersecurity expert but, outlined below are some links I’ve found to upskill and help others in safeguarding themselves against hackers: