When Instagram came out in 2010, little did we know how big a part of our everyday lives it would be a decade later?
What started as a simple photo-sharing and social networking app has turned into a must-use platform for most brands and businesses and is pretty much responsible for the rise of “influencers.”
A big part of the reason why Instagram is able to stay relevant is that it is constantly updating and adding new features, including direct messages (DMs), reels, promotions, stories, and more. Instagram isn’t just for photo sharing anymore — people use it to sell products, conduct business, and even for dating.
Unfortunately, there are also fraudsters and scammers who take advantage of the many features of Instagram to trick unsuspecting users into giving up personal info or sending them money.
Keep reading to find out what some of the most common Instagram scams are, how to avoid them, and what to do if you get scammed.
You can find phishing scams related to pretty much any online platform, and Instagram is no exception. There are many ways scammers can “phish” for your personal info, but one of the most common strategies is to send out an email that appears to be from Instagram itself.
These Instagram email scam artists typically claim that your account is locked or that you need to verify it in order to continue using the platform and prompt you to click on a link to reset your password or provide your login info. Of course, the email is fake and the link really takes you to some third-party site that steals your data.
Instagram phishing isn’t just limited to emails. Scammers will also slide into your DMs to try and trick you into giving up sensitive information. They can even use bots to try and pry details out of you during seemingly real conversations.
There are a variety of Instagram scams that try to get you to send money somewhere under false pretenses. For instance, there are fake influencers who claim to know the secret to making a lot of money fast by investing. They’ll ask you to deposit money with them, promising too-good-to-be-true returns, then disappear with your funds. This is common in Bitcoin Instagram scams.
Alternatively, scammers might try and trick you into thinking you’ve won some kind of giveaway, and all you need to do to claim the prize is enter your credit card or bank account info. Then, they use this info to steal money from you.
Catfish scams are a type of Instagram romance scam in which the fraudsters pose as a natural person, often using real photos and info stolen from elsewhere online and try to make you fall in love with them.
Then, when you’re comfortable and let your guard down, they start asking you to send them money for bills, gifts, or some other reason. Of course, you’re not really talking to who you think you are, and the scammers will just keep draining your wallet until you catch on.
There are many legitimate ads and products for sale on Instagram, but scammers trick you into purchasing things that never materialize. For example, you might notice a bunch of ads for a “clearance” sale on a fashion brand, and it looks like there are great deals, so you click on the ads to go to a third-party shopping site.
However, when you buy clothes from the site, they never arrive, and you can’t contact any sort of customer service to get a refund. These Instagram ad scams are also known as Instagram promotion scams.
There are so many different common Instagram scams that almost anyone can fall victim to one. For example, if you use the platform for shopping, you might fall for an Instagram ad scam. Or, if you’re using Instagram for dating, you could easily be catfished and tricked into a romance scam.
However, the most vulnerable people are those who don’t know what to watch out for to avoid Instagram scams. We’ll provide some tips below to help keep yourself safe on Instagram.
To report a scam account on Instagram, click on the three dots in the upper right-hand corner of the profile and click on “Report.” Then, follow the on-screen instructions to report the account for scamming.
If you keep your wits about you and don’t blindly trust every account you interact with on Instagram, it’s a perfectly safe platform to use. However, it’s important to be aware of the risks that are out there and know what to look out for to avoid common Instagram scams. Keep an eye out for red flags and follow the tips above to keep yourself safe.
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