Are you checking your Instagram or Facebook account right now? What if a hacker stole it? How can you get it back or can the provider refuse to return it? It’s why one South Florida Business owner called Help Me Howard with Patrick Fraser.

Ever wonder where the beautiful flowers come from that you see in nice hotels and fancy condos? One place: The Blonde Tulip.

Pearl Meyer: “The weekly accounts is really what gets you through, you know? Hotel lobbies and condominium lobbies and things like that.”

Pearl opened her floral design shop in Coconut Grove 20 years ago.

Pearl Meyer: “God has been very good to us and have amazing clients.”

To see Pearl’s new ideas, everyday customers can go to her Instagram account.

Pearl Meyer: “It’s 10 years of photographs and catalogs of our work and our special events.”

And then she got the alert.

Pearl Meyer: “And it was the hacker. ‘I’ve got your account. I hacked your instagram account. Do you want it back?'”

Her Instagram account was now controlled by a hacker.

You could see Pearl’s older arrangements, but if a customer clicked “message” to place an order, Pearl didn’t get it.

Pearl Meyer: “It’s just heartbreaking too because if clients or a potential customer go to The Blonde Tulip Instagram and then they write to you, I can’t see that now because somebody else is controlling it.”

The floral design shop can take orders over the phone and through their website, but the Instagram account brings in a lot of money, so Pearl contacted Instagram.

Pearl Meyer: “Yeah, multiple, multiple follow up emails, and they’re just not answering anymore.”

The hacker never demanded money to unlock her account, not that Pearl would have given it to them anyway.

Pearl Meyer: “If you give them how many thousands of dollars that they ask for or whatever, um, you don’t know that they’re going to actually give it back.”

And so she turned to Help Me Howard with a question. Do you own your social media account, and if it’s hacked do you have a right to get it back?

Howard Finkelstein, 7News legal expert: “While the social media provider, like Instagram, owns the internet space, by opening an account that space becomes yours, almost like leasing an apartment. Therefore, if someone steals it, it’s a crime and the provider is obligated to return your account to you.”

We contacted Meta, they control Instagram and Facebook. They moved quickly, taking control of the Blonde Tulip page from the hacker and returning it to Pearl.

The good news nearly brought Pearl to tears.

Pearl Meyer: “Here I go again. This is my baby. This is my life.”

Howard Finkelstein: “I said it’s a crime to hack your social media page. In fact, it’s a felony, but the police are not going to investigate. They don’t have the time or resources. You have to depend on your provider to get you account back or just open a new account.”

Thanks to Meta, Pearl controls her Instagram page again– proof: she sent a thank you to Help Me Howard.

Pearl Meyer: “We are elated. You should have seen us yesterday. So exciting, thank you so much.”

Glad we could help. Now to stop hackers, it’s suggested you use two step authentication, meaning it takes two steps for you to sign in. It takes a few seconds more, but it usually keeps crooks from getting into your financial and social media accounts. Ask Pearl what a pain it is when they do.

Roses are red, our rhyming skills leave us blue. Let us stick to helping people, cause there we have a clue.

With this Help Me Howard, I’m Patrick Fraser, 7News.

CONTACT HELP ME HOWARD:
Email: helpmehoward@wsvn.com
Reporter: Patrick Fraser at pfraser@wsvn.com
Miami-Dade: 305-953-WSVN
Broward: 954-761-WSVN

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