What You Need to Know to Avoid Instagram Scams

Instagram is a big part of the lives of many people, who use it daily to interact with friends and family. The popularity of the social media platform has also ensnared many businesses and individuals who find success in parading out various products, outfits and locations.

With over 1 billion active users every month, Instagram is brimming with fraudsters and cybercriminals who prey on naive internet users through various scams.

Here are some of the most common hustles you can find on Instagram:

Phishing attacks

Major social media platforms such as Instagram often attract cyberthieves looking to take over accounts and steal your personal information. They can contact potential victims via email or even direct messages on the platform to trick them into providing login credentials on fake login pages.

By accessing fake links, you not only hand over your login credentials (often reused on other online platforms) but also risk infecting your device with malicious software that encrypts data or steals your financial data.

Fake Giveaways

It is very common among Instagram influencers to hold sponsored giveaways, where they provide a lucky winner with high-end products, but scammers have also tapped in on the practice.

Fraudsters often impersonate influencers or businesses, informing recipients that they have won a prize. The scammer will often ask winners to pay a bogus shipping fee or provide personal information.

Phony brands and knock-offs

It’s common knowledge that the internet is swarming with fake products, ranging from luxury apparel and fashion accessories to smart new tech and gadgets.

Brand impersonators often buy likes and followers to create a seemingly legitimate page and bait Instagrammers with exclusive or limited-time deals for high-end merchandise. Unfortunately, victims end up spending big bucks on illegal and counterfeit goods.

Romance scams

What are the chances of meeting your love interest on Instagram? Honestly, not good.

Some scammers may take time to reveal their true intent. In this particular case, the fraudster will go to great lengths and invest time to trick their targets. He will enter a fake online relationship with you and strive to earn your trust. You might even give him sensitive information about you. When the time is just right, he will exploit the relationship, asking for goods and money transfers to pay for travel expenses to come visit you. As long as the victim pays up, the perp will play nice. If you become suspicious or insist on a face-to-face meeting, the scammers might start bullying you or threaten to expose your secrets. In the end, you’re left with a broken heart and a hole in your bank account.

Good practices

Whether you’re Instafamous or not, scammers will go to great lengths to dupe you into purchasing fake goods, endorsing bogus products or providing your information. Here’s what you can do to stay safe on Instagram:

  • Don’t overshare when posting your photos and videos
  • Use a unique and complex password to log in into your account and enable two-factor authentication
  • Be wary of individuals who contact you via direct message, and do not click on links they send you
  • Stick to the too-good-too-be-true rule. If something seems far-fetched, it probably is.
  • Set your account to private. If you use Instagram to keep in touch with friends and family, there’s no need to leave your account visible to everyone. A private account means that only your followers get to see the photos and videos you post.
  • Regularly review your list of Instagram followers. By doing so, you can remove any unwanted or unfamiliar people who are following you
  • Install a security solution with anti-phishing and anti-fraud protection to block suspicious websites and warn you about any fraud attempts

Even the most vigilant and cyber-savvy individual can get duped sometimes. Ever wondered if someone is impersonating you online and what pieces of your digital identity are exposed? Check now with Bitdefender’s Digital Identity Protection tool.

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