SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (WCIA) — A Springfield woman fell victim to the rise of online scammers targeting small businesses.

Brenda Protz’s social media world turned on its head when she found out her accounts were no longer hers. She lost access to her personal social media account, business account, and a tribute page dedicated to her late daughter. The hackers sent messages from her account, selling fake products and sharing her home address.

Proz got an email asking if she changed her Facebook account information and clicked on it. But when she tried to get it back, it was too late.

“They then tried to hack into my Amazon account and a Paypal account and were unsuccessful with those last two,” she said, “but in just a matter of seconds, they were able to take over all of my Facebook presence and Instagram.”

She wasn’t just concerned about her information being taking advantage of. Her friends on Facebook also became targets. Some of them were even sent to her home.

“It was very scary Friday night, this past Friday night when this happened to me. Somebody was at my door, and I answered the door,” Protz said.

The hacker spent over $1,000 on furniture that didn’t exist. Protz said she was lucky the deliverer was someone she knew, but now, there’s no telling who else could show up.

“Technology is great but also can be very, very scary in terms of things like this,” she said.

She said regaining access to an account isn’t as easy as hacking one.

“They actually then ask, send a message to my account that’s been hacked and say, ‘Is this you? Are you trying to do these things?’” Protz said. “And then of course, the hacker is going to say, you know, ‘Of course not.’”

Protz is now spending her time trying to warn others and telling them how to not end up in a situation like hers.

“I’ve learned that you’ve got to be safe, and not just click on everything that’s coming your way,” she said.

Protz still doesn’t have access to any of her accounts. She said she was told the process could take up to a year.

She shared some simple changes that could help you from getting hacked, too:

  • You never know who could be watching, so switching your profile to private is a good idea.
  • If you want a public profile on social media, make it separate so it can’t be traced to your personal life.
  • If you are on your phone, turn on two-factor authentication.
  • Change your passwords often and don’t duplicate.