TikTok might have risen to fame because of its viral dance videos, but scammers are also taking advantage of the platform to reach whole new audiences. There are tons of fake accounts on TikTok that will try to lure you into providing payments or sensitive information.
In this article, we’ll explain what some of the most common TikTok scams are in 2021, as well as provide you with some tips for how to protect yourself.
The Growth of TikTok
Before we dive into the different types of TikTok scams out there, let’s take a quick look at what exactly the app is and how it got so big over the last year or so for some context.
TikTok is a short-form video-sharing app that launched internationally in September of 2017. It originally allowed users to create 15-second videos synced to in-app music. In its earliest days, TikTok was mainly full of users lip-syncing, dancing, or acting out short sketches.
TikTok has since increased the max video length to 3 minutes and is now full of content about everything under the sun, from financial advice to recipe videos. The app now reportedly has more than 1.2 billion daily active users — a lot of potential targets for scammers!
6 Most Common TikTok Scams
1. Adult Content TikTok Scam
In this TikTok scam, fraudulent accounts steal images or videos of women in bikinis or workout clothes and upload them to TikTok to entice users looking for adult content. The scam accounts then redirect followers to Snapchat or adult content sites, eventually prompting them to provide credit card details or other information to pay for “premium” content.
2. TikTok Scam Apps
Fake accounts on TikTok sometimes promote fraudulent apps that they want you to download. The accounts either make misleading claims about apps that users have to pay for, or the apps themselves will actually install adware or malware on your device to spam you with ads or steal your info.
3. Fake Celebrities
Another thing you should watch out for on TikTok is accounts impersonating real-life celebrities. Many scammers are great at essentially replicating a real celebrity’s account by stealing their existing content to entice unsuspecting TikTok users into following them. They may then use the fake accounts to promote other fraudulent content, such as crypto investing scams.
4. More Likes and Followers
This TikTok scam targets people looking to grow their fanbase and become influential TikTokers themselves. The scam accounts offer users likes and followers in exchange for payment, downloading an app, or taking some other kind of action. Once you do what the scam account wants you to, you either won’t get any followers or likes at all, or they will all be from fake accounts and bots with obviously false names and pictures.
5. TikTok Scam Email Phishing
A TikTok scam email is basically a regular phishing email that goes out to anyone with a TikTok account whose email address scammers have managed to get ahold of. They might try to offer you sponsorship, a bigger following, a verified badge, or some other special deal. If you click on any links in the email, you’ll be redirected to a site that asks you for your login credentials or other personal information.
6. Bot Accounts
TikTok is also full of bot accounts that interact with users and try to trick you into thinking that you’re chatting with a real person. They might ask you directly for sensitive information or try to redirect you to scam sites that phish for your info or install malware on your device.
Who Are the Victims of TikTok Scams?
TikTok scams particularly look to target children and teens, because they are typically not as aware of the prevalence and dangers of online scams. People between the age of 10 and 19 also account for more than 30% of TikTok’s user base.
That being said, anyone can fall victim to a TikTok scam. Different scams target different types of users, so it’s important to know what to be on the lookout for to stay safe on the platform.
Staying Safe on TikTok
Now that you know what 6 of the most common TikTok scams are, you might be wondering how you can protect yourself from TikTok scammers. Below, we’ll give you some tips for how to spot fake accounts on TikTok and avoid becoming a victim of the most common scams
View Adult Content At Your Own Risk
The nature of adult content means that it can be very hard to know if you’re going to get what you’re paying for. Just be aware that TikTok is full of fake adult content accounts and be very wary if any accounts try to redirect you to a Snapchat or a website that asks you for payment details right away.
Be Wary of Promoted Apps
Don’t just blindly download any apps that you see promoted on TikTok. Make sure to do some research and read reviews before you download them to make sure that you’re getting what you pay for and that you aren’t going to be downloading adware or malware onto your device.
Double-Check the Authenticity of Celebrity Accounts
The easiest way to spot a real celebrity account is to look for a verified badge. Any legitimate celebrity will have this badge. However, it’s not unheard of for scammers to figure out how to get the verified badge, so always do some investigating to make sure any celebrity accounts you follow are real. You can always just Google the celebrity’s name and “TikTok” to find their legit handle.
Don’t Take Shortcuts to More Likes and Followers
If you see any accounts promoting too-good-to-be-true ways to gain likes and followers fast, just avoid them. If you want to grow on TikTok, focus on creating quality content and gaining fans the organic way. Don’t be tempted to pay for fans because they’ll just end up being fake accounts or bots anyways.
Ignore Emails With Links About Your TikTok
Unless you get an official email from TikTok, never click on any links in emails offering you sponsorship or some other deal related to your account. No legitimate company should be emailing you links to click on related to your TikTok. They’ll just take you to phishing sites or sites loaded with malware.
Watch Out for Bots
If anyone messages you on TikTok, be on the lookout for strange phrases and requests. If the conversation doesn’t seem natural, or if the account has an unusual username, it’s probably a bot. Never give any personal information out to anyone over TikTok.
Have You Been Scammed on TikTok or Elsewhere Online?
If you’ve fallen victim to a TikTok scam or any other online scam, Payback LTD can help. We are a team of financial and cybercrime professionals committed to helping people get reimbursed after all kinds of online scams.
We work hard to track down fraudulent companies and scammers to take action against them and shut them down. We will do everything in our power to get your money back from TikTok scammers or any other type of online fraudsters.