Instagram is the leading social trading platform. Many vendors love Instagram because they know how to easily connect with clients and make sales to them. However, scammers have been attracted to the platform by the increase in vendors.
The app boasts about 1.15 billion active users who share millions of photos every day. The platform’s popularity and open nature make it an ideal place for people to connect and have conversations. Unfortunately, scammers use this platform to engage in illicit activities.
Scam highlights have been identified that could help you to avoid losing your property or money.
Look out for these signs
- Accounts and people who ask you to claim a reward.
- A request to move your conversation from Instagram to an area that is less public and more secure.
- Poor spelling and grammar in messages or posts.
- People who make false statements about their location.
- You may receive messages that look like they are from a friend or company asking you to click on suspicious links.
- A message from someone you don’t know requesting money.
- An individual claiming to represent Instagram security is asking for account information or verification.
- Accounts that represent large companies or public figures are not verified.
By hiding their true identities behind fake profiles and accounts, cybercriminals can collect personal information to be used as blackmail against their targets, sell fake goods, impersonate known family and friends, trick people out of money, put out wrong information under someone’s name, set up innocent people or spread fake news just for financial gain.
Scams can quickly spread as scammers are shared more often and people comment on malign posts.
Here are some ways to avoid falling for these scammers’ schemes.
1. Avoid fake giveaways
There are legitimate Instagram giveaways and promotions, but there are also many fraudulent ones that promise non-existent prizes. These scammers often imitate big brand names and ask that you share, like, or comment on the post in order to be eligible to win. Their real goal is to lure you in, then demand that you pay delivery fees to ensure they get the gift to you. If that fails, they can harvest your personal data or ask you to follow their account in order to increase their credibility. These scam accounts should be reported immediately to ensure they are taken down.
2. Avoid Phishing DMs
There are many kinds of phishing scams on Instagram. Scammers on Instagram include phishing emails asking users for personal information or to click on a hyperlink to verify their account activity. avoid messages from accounts that tell you “they have checked your profile and you fit into what they want as a brand ambassador”. This is a fake message that is funny and implausible. They ask you to hurry up and contact them as there are only a limited number of slots. These messages are not to be trusted. Instead, delete the message and then block them. A fraudster can access your account and steal your personal information, change your password, or lock you out.
3. Instagram Likes and Followers for Free
Influencers can make a lot of money by promoting products from different companies through their profiles. The more followers an influencer has, the more money it can make. Cybercriminals have taken advantage of this business model to scam followers and likes, in order to increase influencers’ numbers. These accounts may appear to be real but they’re often fake automated accounts set up specifically to defraud users.
4. Avoid fake brand accounts
Research reveals that fake accounts of brands are very common on Instagram. Ghost Data fake goods are featured in nearly 20% of fashion product posts. Nearly 50,000 accounts also promote and sell fake products daily at absurdly high prices. It is easy to identify scammers by simply doing a Google search on the item. You will most likely find the exact product they want to promote, and it will be listed on other sites for a lower price. Although they promise discounts, the real purpose of these fake accounts is to gain followers and likes to increase their credibility.
5. Avoid Fake Investment Scams
In June 2020, £358,809 was the reported amount of money lost by those who fell victim to fake investments on Instagram. Action Fraud the UK’s anti-fraud organization, ICE, received 164 reports from victims of these scams. Fake investments scams are most often not reported because victims are too embarrassed to tell their families or report the scam to the authorities. After advertising their service, fraudsters will often reach victims via instant messaging. They’ll claim to only require an initial investment of a few thousand which will then be used to trade on the stock market. Once payment has been made, they’ll disappear with very little chance of the money ever being recouped.
Tips to Help Avoid Instagram Scams
- Do your research – If you’re unsure if an account is legitimate or not, you can go into their profile and select ‘About this Account’. Instagram will show you when the user joined the platform, where they’re located if they’re running any ads, if they’ve made any username changes, or if they have accounts with shared followers. If something doesn’t seem quite right, you can then block and report the user.
- Third-party apps should be monitored closely – It can be easy to lose track of all the third-party apps you have connected to your account. Although most are safe, there is a chance that you have accidentally installed a rogue program and thus exposed yourself to data thieves. you can go view expired or active apps from the settings of your device in the ‘Settings’, menu.
- Your account can be made private – Instagram accounts are set to public by default so to ensure that only friends can view your posts, you should make your account private. Only approved followers will be able to find your posts through search, see which posts you’ve liked, or send you direct messages.
- Verify whether accounts have been verified – If you’re buying products from what appears to be a big brand account, check that the account is verified with a blue tick. If a seller offers expensive products at low prices or has unusual payment methods, suspicions should be raised.
- Block accounts – If someone is harassing you or posting inappropriate content, you can manually block them. Open the three-dot menu on the account and select ‘Block’. It’s also worth reporting the account to Instagram. Accounts will be removed if they are found to have violated the terms of service by commenting or posting videos.