MILTON — Small businesses throughout Indiana use Facebook to communicate with their customers, but when their accounts get hacked, it can be a nightmare to get back.
The Jones Family Farm in Milton, located in Wayne County, finally got access back to their Facebook page after a two-month ordeal.
As WRTV Investigates reported in November, hackers took over the farm’s Facebook page and posted hundreds of racy photos of half-naked women.
WRTV Investigates sent a dozen emails to Meta, Facebook’s parent company, trying to get the Jones Family Farm’s Facebook account back.
On January 4, 2023, WRTV received a message from Meta indicated “the hacker was removed from the page.”
WRTV shared the good news with the farm’s co-owner, Pamela Jones.
“Oh my goodness,” said Jones. “I cried.”
Jones said for the first time in months, she was able to access the farm’s Facebook page.
“Thank you to you and to Mr. Brad (WRTV Photojournalist Brad Forestal) for coming out and doing the story,” said Jones. “You made our family feel like we were getting somewhere with this mess."
Jones is spending hours deleting risqué photos from the page.
“We are going to scrub it clean of all the yuck,” said Jones. “Get me back in my overalls to do some videos about the farm."
The page is up to 58,000 followers, however, many of them are new followers likely expecting women in bikinis.
“Our hope is they just all stop following us,” said Jones. “That's the hope. I hope they don't comment and say bad things."
The Better Business Bureau Serving Central Indiana says hackers often target small businesses because they’ll pay a ransom to get their page back.
However, Jones says she never got a ransom and it’s still unclear why they targeted her page.
"Business pages have a large following of people,” said Jennifer Adamany with the BBB. “It creates a wider audience for scammers to try to tempt. In this case, the content they're posting— they could be trying to lure someone into a romance scam or even see who is responding to reach out to their personal accounts and hack their accounts."
The BBB recommends small businesses:
- Have multiple administrators on your account
- Use multi-factor authentication
- Set up alerts for unrecognized logins
- Keep an email list of your customers as a backup
“It's a good tactic to want to reach your customers to alert them about sales and events or to alert them your account has been compromised and to not engage until you can get it resolved,” said Adamany.
And course, do not click on suspicious links.
That’s how Pamela Jones’ personal and business account got hacked.
She got what she thought was a notification about a copyright issue from Facebook and clicked on it, not realizing it was a phishing attempt.
“I was totally locked out of the account in less than five minutes,” said Jones.
The Jones Family Farm is now creating a database of customers so they will have a backup in case hackers strike again.
Here’s what Facebook’s website says you should do if you suspect someone has hacked or taken over your account:
1. Secure your account.
Visit facebook.com/hacked immediately to secure your account. Our guided help tool will take you through each step to protect your page from hackers. You will be prompted to change your password and review your recent login activity.
2. Get a security code sent to your email address or phone number.
Facebook has added another layer of protection that you can use to ensure your account is secure. You can request that we send a security to your email address or phone number to help us confirm that you are indeed the owner of the account.
To request a security code:
- Tap My login info isn’t working on the login screen.
- Choose either your email address or phone number to have the code sent to you and then tap Send Security Code.
- Enter the 6-digit code you receive and tap Confirm and follow the on-screen instructions.
3. Report your account.
You should report your account to us if you’re unable to recover your account with the security code sent to you. We will do our best to help you access and secure your account so you can continue connecting and sharing with your friends and family.