Help, My LinkedIn was Hacked! True Story.

Well, readers my carefully curated LinkedIn Account was hacked. Months later, I'm still untangling the criminal hackers' tentacles and dealing with the fallout!  The hacker (s), removed my email access from my account so I was totally locked out. The hacker with the fake email "Bruce Lee"disguised themselves as me. They reconfigured my own email to spam my 2,000+ contacts! Even my husband received the spam request, which appeared to be from my own email.

All I could do was watch this with horror. The account I'd nurtured and grown for 10+ years was being dismantled, along with my reputation. As a career coach and lecturer in Higher Education, I had thousands of student/alumni contacts built over 10 years. The spammer targeted all of my lovely students and alumni! The LinkedIn help page only has tips for people who were hacked but still have access to their account and email? What?!?

Here are some unvarnished facts I've learned from this experience. I hope they help you.

You may think your social media accounts are yours, but they are not! You are allowed access, but do not have any rights to the years of content, contacts, recommendations etc  This is the sad truth.

For LinkedIn the only tech support is via email, no phone support line exists. You'll have to wait 4-5 days for each reply. Each reply will be from a different tech person and you have to explain your whole situation again.

If you are hacked, immediately request that LinkedIn freeze your account. It took 8-10 emails and several weeks for LinkedIn to respond and comply. But, they didn't tell me it was frozen. So, when I Googled my own account, now there was nothing online! This temporarily stopped the spammer, hacker or bot. Now, I was worried my entire profile was destroyed. Meanwhile, be prepared to loose all access to your own account. LinkedIn will say they are 'investigating' not sure if they did or not. Never received any updates on this, though I asked many times.

Meanwhile, I was trying to respond to dozens of emails from my contacts. They were confused and upset. They were receiving incessant, marketing emails (in very poor English) from my account. The irony is that I proofread resumes for a living! You'd think someone would say - this poor English doesn't sound like Sharon.

*I'm a career coach, not a sales person asking people to do survey! Yet, some of my contacts fell victim to the scammer who promised money for Mystery Dinners restaurant reviews. 3 of my contacts actually sent the hacker their personal information and filled in surveys! Then, they were paid with fake checks. The survey takers were told they'd receive 80% or close to $2,000. Of course, the the banks wouldn't cash these fraudulent checks. Then my 3 contacts called me to complain?!?

LinkedIn will ask you to prove you are the person who set up the account, before opening it back up to you.  LinkedIn requested a copy of my drivers license and passport, which I was NOT willing to provide. It's a shame that this level of security is not available at the front end, to protect your account in the 1st place.

This sounded so outrageous, I wasn't sure it wasn't the hacker tricking me. Noting their lack of coordination with multiple, technical support people, I had no idea who this sensitive information would go to. An alternative was to get my personal ID verified and notarized by a notary public. Cost, time, energy and more embarrassment explaining this hack to a stranger. I did this and sent it in 5 times, before LinkedIn acknowledged receipt. No action...

After a month of polite and patient emails, nothing was progressing. So, as a last resort I went to my Twitter Account and my large group of followers. I tweeted about the hack and used #fixit #LinkedIn @LinkedIn support. This got their attention, and they responded the same day. But, Twitter LinkedIn staff said that a hack was too big an issue for them to resolve. They couldn't help me. I had to return to the slow/non-existent email support.

Two weeks later, still no progress. I was scheduled to teach LinkedIn at the University of Georgia to a group of MBA students. I told LinkedIn that I still didn't have access to my own account. I also told them that I would share this story of the hack and callous indifference by LinkedIn support. At 1:00 am the day before my lecture, my account was re-opened. How miraculous! But, they re-opened it while still allowing the Hacker to be the primary email and contact. So, the hacker began spamming again. 1 month later, dozens more emails, from me to LinkedIn I finally got control of my own account.

But - now I'm exhausted. I'm trying to rebuild my social media brand and am not as innocent as I was. I truly hope this never happens to you!

your career manager - Sharon C.
Read more about a LinkedIn Hacker that was caught this past Fall, in Europe. He'd stolen 117 million passwords and logins from users and was trafficking this data.

 Author: © 2017 - All Rights Reserved - Sharon B. Cohen, MA, Dip.Educ, Career Counselor and Career Transition Specialist. Atlanta, GA. "Helping business professionals, reach their career potential!"

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