In the last few months I was getting a lot of question from people who’s had their Apple accounts hacked. This is a real problem and ones it happens, most likely all devices, connected to this account, will be remotely locked by hackers. No one is secure and it can happen to anyone. You may be surprised, but in most cases it’s the account holder who let the “intruders into the house”. How to avoid that situation and what to do if it’s already happened are the topics of today’s article. The following information is a must read for every iPhone user.

First of all, I want you to realize how scammers act and what are their methods of fooling iPhone users. The most common of them I described below.

“Help your friend” to find a stolen iPhone

Kidnapping of all sort of accounts via social networks had been known for many years. Not long ago hackers started to use stolen Facebook and Google+ accounts to send fishing messages where they beg for “help with stolen iPhone”. Just Imagine you get a Facebook message from one of your friends saying “Hey Max, I’m in trouble!!! Please help me out to find a stolen iPhone. Enter such Apple ID into Settings – Apple ID – iCloud then check it’s location on the map… blah-blah…” The trick really works and you wouldn’t believe how many people just go and unthinkingly enter stranger’s Apple ID account into their iPhones. STOP! Please don’t do such a silly thing!

The message you may receive can change it’s “shape”, but it’s meaning is always the same – You’ll be asked to enter stranger’s Apple ID account into your iPhone’s iCloud settings.

Here are few real comments from real users:
One of my Facebook friends sent me a message asking for some sort of help to find a stolen iPhone. He wanted me to sign out from my iCloud account on my iPhone and then sign in using his account. I did exactly what he asked for, but when I tried to go to Find my iPhone page, my phone just switched off. When I turned it on there was a lock screen where I had to enter Apple ID and password, which I didn’t have. It turned out to be scammers who threatened to leave my iPhone locked for good if I didn’t pay them. Is it possible to unlock my iPhone if I call to Apple support team? I have all receipts and a box for my iPhone.
I have the following problem: somebody wrote to me in social network and asked to help finding a lost phone by logging into iCloud account on my iPhone. I trusted that person so I’ve done as he said. After that my iPhone switched off and I realised that I was mugged by a hacker, who wrote from my friend’s account. As a result my iPhone is locked and I don’t know the password installed by hacker. The one I entered before is not working now. Please help me! Is there anybody who can solve this?

Would you trust such message if it was coming from your friends, or would you check if it’s the real deal first? Please share your thoughts in comment section.

What usually happens next? The nasty men are sitting on icloud.com website and wait until a new device appear in Find my iPhone app. Then he activates Lost Mode on that device and quickly changes a password for Apple ID. Usually straight after that you’ll see a message on the locked device which would state that you’ve been fooled and you have to pay money to get the unlock code. They also state that you have just 12 hours to transfer money, otherwise your device will stay locked forever.

If your iPhone was previously set with a numeric passcode, try to enter this passcode to disable the Lost Mode.

I don’t recommend to pay any money to scammers. They’ve already fooled you ones, they’ll do it again! On the other hand, I suggest to try implement steps which I described below.

By the way, don’t waste your time by Erasing All Content and Settings, Restoring iPhone through iTunes or even DFU mode. None of these methods will help you to bypass Lost Mode or iCloud Activation Lock on iPhone.

“I would buy your iPhone… but you’ll have to check if my iCloud works first”

If you’re selling your old iPhone via an ad paper or on-line, you should be very careful while communicating with potential buyers. The most common mistake people do is trusting someone on the other side of the phone. I lot of scammers are there too, and all of them want to screw you up. What would you do if the person “who want’s to buy your iPhone” will ask you to enter his iCloud details into your iPhone Settings? The excuse they (scammers) provide would be like this: “Oh… I’ve met few sellers today, but couldn’t enter my iCloud acc into their iPhones, so it was a waste of my time… Please check if my iCloud works on your iPhone, before I come and pay you the money… blah-blah-blah…” Looks and sounds very convincing, isn’t it? BUT IT’S NOT! They are trying to fool you!

Don’t ever log in to iCloud settings of your iPhone with credentials of other people. There is no need for that. If someone has to find a contact number or lost iPhone, they should go to http://icloud.com web site and use necessary tools from there.

Hijacking Apple ID through an email

There is one more way of hijacking Apple accounts. As you know, Apple ID login is nothing else but a simple email address. That means if hackers successfully brute force your email address (password guessing ), they will definitely try to get to your Apple ID account. Usually they will attempt to change Apple ID password, followed by blocking all of your Apple devices.

You got the idea! Right? … Create passwords that are not so easy to guess by other people. Take it as a rule for all of your accounts!

We have mentioned possible threats to your Apple ID accounts. But what if it’s too late and my Apple ID is “gone”? We’ll talk about that in paragraph below. Here is a Step-by-Step guide which you can follow to remove Lost Mode on your iPhone and get back your Apple ID account.

What should I do if my Apple account was hacked?

Starting from iOS 7, Apple introduced a new security feature called iCloud Actiavation Lock. It was meant to help every iPhone/iPad user to protect their data by remotely locking or erasing lost/stolen device. Unfortunately sometimes this feature may turn against true iPhone users, if accessed by unauthorized person. Below is my personal To-Do list when “shit hits the fan“.

STEP 1 Check if you still have access to your email address
We’ll start with an email which you have used for registering Apple ID. As I mentioned above, it’s possible that your mailbox had been hacked first. Just try to login to the email. If you don’t remember the password or it doesn’t really work – RECOVER EMAIL PASSWORD. Do whatever you can… but you MUST HAVE YOUR EMAIL back in your possession.

If you remember using Rescue email address for Apple ID, check that email as well.

STEP 2 Recover your Apple ID account
Now when you have all of your email accounts back, it’s time to Recover Apple ID.

In order to get control over your Apple account, you’ll have to reset Apple ID password. You can do this at official Apple website here: http://iforgot.apple.com. If you need more information, we have a detailed guide on that topic (read here).

Get your Apple account back

If you specified a Rescue email address while registering Apple ID, the password reset message (with a link) should arrive exactly to this email.

IF YOU ENTERED someone’s else Apple ID into iCloud Settings of your device, and now your device s locked, you have just two options: #1 – Contact Apple Support (go to Step 5), #2 – get the unlock code from Apple ID owner (if it’s a scam, don’t recommend wasting money).

STEP 3 Deactivate “Lost Mode” for all necessary devices
Hopefully you’ve changed a password for your Apple ID. Now it’s time to deactivate Lost Mode on your locked iPhone or iPad. To do that go to icloud.com, login with your Apple ID, run “Find my iPhone” app, choose locked device from “All Devices” tab, click “Stop Lost Mode” button.

How to stop Lost Mode on iPhone

STEP 4 Restore iPhone in DFU mode
If you managed to successfully complete first three steps, accept my congratulations! You are a lucky person!
Despite the quick success, the story is not over yet. Most likely your iPhone is still locked, asking for a 4 (or 6) digit unlock code. More than that you’re not able to connect the device to Wi-Fi network. Are you? If so, there is a solution for you – Connect iPhone to a computer with USB cable, start iTunes, Restore the iPhone in DFU mode (Step-by-Step Guide can be found here).

STEP 5 Contact Apple Support Team
If you tried hard but wasn’t lucky enough, then it’s time to look for external help. You’ll have to contact Apple Support team, and they are the only people who can really help. The best way of communicating with Apple Support is via the phone. Don’t be shy and scared, there are only polite and pretty girls (and boys) who work at Apple Support team… More than that, they are very helpful. If you need a phone number for your country, look at official Apple website here.

!!!ATTENTION!!! First thing’s first. Before anyone from support team will do something about your problem, you must prove you’re a legitimate device owner. Simple chit chat over the phone is not gonna persuade anyone. On the other hand a receipt from Apple Store is more than enough for proofing the device is yours. I hope you’ve got a receipt… Do you? Don’t tell me you got rid of it!? If you don’t have a receipt, go to step 3.

Anyway, contact Apple Support advisor over the phone right now. Some people got their devices sorted even without a paper receipt, but just providing a copy of email communication with scammers. The other story says that a girl was crying over the phone so hard, that an advisor whispered the password to her… Actually, the last story sounds a bit unreal… but that’s what I’ve heard from people.

Of course you have an option to pay to scammers, but I STRONGLY DON’T RECOMMEND doing it. In 99% on all cases they will just ignore you… especially if you pay them money. Don’t forget that you’ve already been fooled by them… Do you really want more?

Happy End stories from our readers

At the end I want to share some “Happy End” stories, told by readers of GeekDumy.com.

Anna
Hello. We got ourselves in trouble with scammers (they locked iPhone and asked for 100$). Your post helped us a lot! First – we reset password by answering security questions, then using Recovery email address. Second – we phoned to support, where nice girl gave us a step-by-step guide on how to get my iPhone unlocked, and …. Ta-Da!!!! The phone is unlocked and working! Thank you for shared information… with your help, scammers were left with nothing.
Mark (very useful comment)
My account also got hacked, as a result my phone was locked through Find my iPhone. I though it was f*cked, but decided to try contacting support team through live chat. In about 20-30 minutes I got the answer. First I returned access over my e-mail address, then deleted e-mail filters installed by scammers. After that I reset a password for iCloud, deleted my iPhone at icloud.com website, checked if activation is disabled (when iPhone is switched off). Then entered DFU mode on iPhone, connected it to the latest version of iTunes, downloaded latest firmware, installed it and set the phone as new device. Boom! The iPhone is back to life and is like new. I had a backup copy saved, so it wasn’t a problem to get contacts and other information back. Support engineer also advised to use emails ending with .com as a login for Apple ID.
Alexander
Got into very same situation yesterday when someone accessed my Apple ID (despite I didn’t share it with anyone). The rest of the story is also the same – locked iPhone with a message from cheaters. I didn’t pay any money of course, but solved the problem this way:
1. Recovered access to my email address. I had my phone number linked to email, so it was easy to reset the password.
2. Recovered my Apple ID, reset password and disabled Lost Mode for my iPhone.
3. Restored iPhone in iTunes.

Those are real stories and we should all learn from them. If your Apple account was hacked – do something about that immediately. If you have similar experience, please share it with others in comments below. Don’t forget to support our website… and Like it in social networks. It’s vital for this website… and motivates me to write more useful guides and interesting articles.

My Apple account was hacked – What should I do? [Self-Help Guide]