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I Lost Access to My Instagram Account

Instagram can be addictive. What happens if you are locked out and you cannot get your daily dose of the gram? It happened to me over a weekend. It was my own doing, but I also realised that Instagram has an unconventional way of verifying an account to restore access to it.

Before continuing, here is my Instagram handle. Follow me for photos from the beautiful outdoors of India. https://www.instagram.com/pixelshooter/

So here is what happened.

Instagram Two-Factor Authentication

I turned on two-factor authentication for my instagram account a month ago. I access my account from multiple devices (home, work, phone etc). Sometimes Instagram goes overboard with anti-spam protection and prevents me from performing legitimate actions. I even got shadow-banned for accessing Instagram from my desktop, but I fixed that problem. If you are interested in knowing how, drop a comment down in this article.

So with two-factor authentication, I not only wanted Instagram to secure my account, but I also wanted those silly “Action Blocked” messages to go away.

Instagram’s two-factor authentication requires you to enter a code in the authentication screen, after you log in using your password. This code can either be sent to you via text message, or is generated in an app such as Google Authenticator.

At first, I choose SMS based two-factor authentication. But due to delays in receiving the SMS, I turned on Google Authenticator based two-factor authentication. When I did this, Instagram sent me backup codes. Backup codes are to be used when you don’t have access to the authenticator app. And I did not save the backup codes. This proved to be a grave oversight on my part!

I had to reset my iPhone which is the primary device where I have the Instagram app installed. All data, including the Instagram and Google Authenticator app was wiped out when I reset my phone. After reinstalling Google Authenticator I could not complete the setup process because I did not have access to the Instagram app. This meant that I was effectively locked out of the app!

Instagram Support Interaction

I contacted Instagram via the login screen on the app. I promptly got an email which had an amusing set of instructions.

They wanted to see my selfie! And if my Instagram account had no pictures that showed my face, I would never be able to access my instagram account!

Now, this is a really strange way for a company to offer support to its users. What if you are a photographer who posts all sorts of photos except one of yourself? Or what if you were handling the account of a popular brand? How do you prove to Instagram that you are asking for legitimate help? From this email it was clear that Instagram expects you to have photos of yourself in your account. Who would have thought so!

Luckily for me, my feed had 2 photos where my face was clearly seen. So I emailed them a selfie with a piece of paper that had the information they wanted.

I immediately got another email asking for more information. This included details which I had to recall from memory.

At this point, I had many questions.

  1. How will non-technical users of Instagram know details such as whice Operating System they used to sign up for their account?
  2. Does Instagram actually expect us to remember such details?
  3. If Instagram is meant for selfies, why are they so big on security? After all, their own two-factor authentication scenario did not take into consideration what happened to me.
  4. Why can’t they just send a code via SMS to complete the authentication process in a situation where the user does not have access to Google Authenticator?

Actually, I don’t remember when I signed up for Instagram. I certainly don’t remember what OS or device I was on. So I provided them with information on how I currently access Instagram. As of now I am waiting for a reply to my support query. I may never be able to access my account. I will update the outcome here.


So after another email where Instagram said some idiotic stuff, I got access to my account. I would like to believe they relented because I questioned their logic – what’s the use of protecting the privacy an account that may never be accessed ever again?


48 thoughts on “I Lost Access to My Instagram Account”

  1. Hi,
    I’ve the same problem…they sent me your last email and they don’t seem to want to give me back access to my account. How can I solve this problem?

    1. Mujje bhi bta do koi kaise krna h ye itna draama .instagram team itni ghtiya h bc .1 mahina hogya koi help ni .ch**** app

  2. I am experiencing the same issue, could I please be able to contact you somehow? It is a matter of urgent importance.

  3. Thanks for sharing this! I have the same issue – dont have app, backup codes and have an account with just one personal image of mine. The rest is just nature photography. The e-mail Instagram sent seemed so fishy to me. I was happy to find your article to see that the process was legit. However, Instagram has not responded to me in 2 weeks now after I had received the last e-mail you show in the article. Can you maybe share some e-mail templates you sent them??😁😁 It seems your arguments were great since you got the access back.😁 Anyways, Thanks a lot for this.

    1. Sorry to hear that you got locked out. I just responded to their emails normally. Nothing special. I see quite a few people writing in to say that Instagram isn’t responding to their emails. So I guess, they have just gotten sloppy with helping users with this particular type of problem.

  4. I got the same problem, got logged out of my business account 2 months ago and Instagram is just not replying to my emails anymore. I don’t know what to do, this is so important for my business and I can’t go back in. Instagram support really sucks… 😭😭😭

      1. I’m Facing your issue now Please tell me what will I do
        How can they gave you access
        My account not included photos of me

  5. Hi
    I am having the same problem. I lost my backup codes on my old phone, so now I am logged out everywhere and cannot login without the codes.
    I contacted instagram and got the reply, that I had to send a photo to them. I did, but I have not heard anymore.

    Any suggestions on, what to do??

    Best regards 🙂

    1. Many folks are having this problem of Instagram not responding. You could wait for a few days and try contacting them again.

      1. I have tried to contact them again without Any answer from them. I don’t think I wil gain acces to my account again 😔

  6. How long did it take for you to receive a second email back? I just submitted the photo with code for verifying. But I haven’t heard from them yet. How long will it take for them to respond?

  7. I am facing the same issue. After verifying my identity, I got a mail that seems automated and says that “It looks like Two factor authentication has been turned off and you can log in into your account now”. However, it is till asking me for a security/backup code. Could you let me know on which mail did you reach out to Instagram ?

    1. I am having the same issue. Lost my backup codes, no access to Authenticator. After verifying my identity, got the same reply that the two factor has been turned off and I can go back and login. But it doesn’t work at all. Have been trying to reach them since so many hours but no reply. Please let me know if you’ve received any reply from them till now.

      1. Hi Aparna
        Just got a mail from Instagram after a long exhaustive wait to fill in as much detail possible about the situation you are facing along with the 5 digit code they give to verify account ownership. This comes after nearly three weeks of continuous mails being sent to them from my different ids and constantly filling out various forms on the Instagram help center. I will update you regarding the response as soon as I get one.

        1. Oh great! Do let me know.
          Sending them continuous emails regarding this. Really hoping to get a reply soon.

        2. Hey Archit.
          That’s great! Do let me know what reply you get after this.
          I’m still hoping to get a response from them soon.. trying to contact them and sending them continuous emails.

        3. Possible to help us with the emails where you contacted Instagram?
          Also what forms did you fill besides the one we get under ‘Get Support’?
          I got the – Two-factor authentication has been turned off – mail but no response on that too.

  8. Is there any other way around this?
    I replied to the email I received, Haven’t got a response back. And the email also looks kinda fake/fishy.
    What do you suggest ?
    I am assuming you did your research on this since you faced the same issue.

  9. I’m facing the same issue. Lost access to Authenticator and recovery codes. Tried changing the password and logged in again but it didn’t work. After verifying my identity, got a mail saying that they have turned off the Authenticator and I can go back and login. But this did not work at all. What should I suppose to do now? Please help

    1. Can you tell me if the have gotten back to you?

      I have the exact same problem as you. They said they have switched it off but I still can`t log in 🙁

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  11. I have the same problem.
    Write more 20 emails, send 20 selfie photos with the same answer email: “Seems that your two steps authentication is desactivated in your account”. No subject in email, not professional.
    I tried to loggin again but the two steps verification is still activate. I’m desesperate, my account has a lot of memories from me since 2015.
    I have add some employees of New York Instagram office and sent personal message. Nobody answer me.
    I think I won’t access to my account again. Help me!!

    1. I’m in a similar situation. My phone died last night, and I contacted Instagram. Sent my photo with the handwritten code, got a reply that the 2FA was disabled but it wasn’t. Guess I’m in for a rough ride.

    1. Hi Archit,
      Thanks for the article. It is helpful.
      Just wanna ask one thing, I received multiple emails regarding – “Thank you for contacting us. It looks like you’re having trouble logging in. To get help with login issues or what you should do if you think your account has been compromised, visit the Help Center:” But not getting the – “Your account may have been compromised. ” email.

      I filled all those forms again and it seems like I am moving in a loop. Possible to assist/advise here?


  12. I have the same situation. Lost the phone, lost the backup code. I sent the picture with code to Instagram and I’m waiting 15 days for the 5 digits code..
    Support Instagram it’s sucks

  13. I sent the photo of me holding the code 3 days ago and no response. ı will update here when I get a response.

    In the mean time can someone give an average waiting time for the second “recovery” e-mail after sending the photo?

  14. Sir, can i talk with you via email?
    My account has been hacked and I don’t want to post details on a public forum.
    What’s your email id? (I promise it would be strictly related to Instagram)
    Apart from this, if you could tell me how you contacted Instagram to respond via a real person, these days everything is automated and I think because of the same reason I’m hitting a snag of endless loops of video-selfie verification.
    Really looking forward to your response.

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