Are you an Instagram user?
You might have heard that Instagram hacking scams are rising, and you’re worried it could also happen to you.
But why would someone impersonate you on Instagram? Why would someone hack your account?
Fraudsters commit Instagram scams to steal identity, ask for money from your friends and family members, or earn by being fake followers. Regardless of their reasons, they can compromise your identity and place your security at risk.
We looked into Instagram hacking sources online to know how you can protect yourself from them. We also read news articles featuring IG scam victims to learn about their experiences and how they dealt with scammers.
We’ll share your best defense against Instagram scams, so you can avoid being vulnerable to scam attacks. Read on!
What are the examples of Instagram scams?
Instagram hacking scams have been rampant, especially during the pandemic, when there was a significant increase in social media use.
We compiled the top 10 examples of Instagram scams, so you could put the right privacy measures in place.
In this type of fraud, you’ll usually receive an Instagram phishing message instructing you to visit a link. Sometimes, scammers will request you to verify your account to prevent any issues.
Once you go to the said website, hackers will ask for your personal information, which they will use to commit other types of fraud.
2. Imposter scams
Hackers can also generate spam bots to produce fake followers that some businesses and influencers buy. If they sell 1,000 fake accounts, including a profile with your stolen information, they can earn $10 and above.
When you become a victim of imposter scams, there’s a high chance that your information has become available to hundreds of criminals in the black market.
3. Instagram account clones
In this fraud, hackers create a clone of your legitimate account to ask for money from your family and friends. Fraudsters will say that your Instagram profile has been hacked and claim that the fake account they made was the real one.
4. Verification badge scam
Almost everyone wants that blue badge that social media sites give to some accounts, and scammers have taken advantage of this fact.
This fraud works like a phishing scam, but scammers will ask you to input your login credentials to apply for the verified badge instead of fixing issues regarding your account.
You might be wondering, “Can I get hacked by opening a message?”
No, criminals can only hack your account if you click the link and input your credentials in the hopes of getting a blue check mark.
5. Romance scams
Online dating has helped thousands of people find lasting love, but unfortunately, fraudsters have also taken advantage of this setup.
In fact, the Federal Trade Commission reported that in 2021, $547 million had been lost due to romance scams.
Here’s how it works:
- A fake profile with very attractive pictures and an interesting lifestyle will send seductive direct messages (DMs).
- The scammers who handle the account will message you consistently to build trust, which can take up to several months.
- Eventually, the fraudsters will tell you about an “emergency financial situation” and that you’re the only one who can help.
- They’ll request money from you to fulfill their goal. Sometimes, they’ll even ask you to apply for loans.
6. Fraudulent sellers
Brands have also used Instagram and other social media sites to promote and sell their products. You might see several ads for newly opened shops or clearance sales of stores closing down.
However, some of them are fraudulent Instagram accounts. They trick people into buying sale items that customers will never receive.
We recommend searching for reviews when buying from new shops and closing stores.
7. Fake merchandise scam
Some accounts also engage in Instagram giveaway scams by posing as legitimate brands and advertising exclusive deals.
They will buy fake followers and post enhanced photos of fake products to entice customers. However, what you’ll receive are counterfeit goods or low-quality items.
Aside from deceiving you into purchasing knock-offs, scammers can also get your credit card or bank account details to commit other crimes.
8. Fake guru and investment scam
You may also receive a DM from a seemingly famous person informing you about incredible investment opportunities. These money-making schemes may involve crypto, real estate, or forex.
After transferring funds to their accounts, they won’t reply to your messages anymore.
9. Money flipping scam
This fraud is connected to the investment scam mentioned above. Scam accounts will flaunt their stacks of cash and expensive cars to lure victims into investing in their company. However, their lifestyle is all made up, and they earn by deceiving people.
10. Fake job scams
The US Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that 9.6 million people were unable to work due to the pandemic, giving scammers another modus operandi.
Fake recruiters promote a job that doesn’t exist to get your personal information, including name, email address, and phone number.
But what can a scammer do with your phone number and other personal details?
As discussed in our previous article, they can discover your SSN, ITIN, and credit card details.
What are the signs of Instagram scams?
Now that you know the latest hacking scams on Instagram, here’s a list of red flags to look out for.
- A stranger requires you to click a certain link to fix the “problems” of your account.
- People ask you to send them money or gift cards in exchange for a reward.
- A job recruiter asks you to pay an application fee so you can be hired.
- Strangers are sending you DMs with grammatical and spelling errors.
- Anyone claiming to be your friend and urgently needs money.
- “Company owners” you’ve never heard of asking you to invest in a highly profitable business.
What should you do if you suspect that your IG account has been hacked?
So how do you deal with a scammer on Instagram?
If you have been a victim of an Instagram email scam or other schemes, here’s what you need to do.
1. Revert the account change
Sometimes, Instagram may send an email to IG accounts that have fallen victims to scams. All you need to do is click “revert this change” to recover your account.
2. Change your password immediately
We also recommend changing your passwords in all of your social media accounts. A strong passcode contains at least 12 alphanumeric characters with special symbols.
3. Request a login link or security code
If hackers change even your email address, you need to email the Instagram support team and request a login link or security code.
4. Block the scammer
If someone sends a suspicious link, it’s best to block that person. This way, you won’t have any communication with a potential scammer.
It can also protect you from future identity theft and other types of fraud.
5. Document the scam and post about it
It will also help if you collect pieces of evidence regarding the incident in case you need to file a report. Some victims of IG scams have also posted about their experiences to warn other people.
How to protect yourself from Instagram scams?
We compiled the best tips for securing your Instagram, so you could feel safe that hackers could not easily access your IG account.
1. Be aware of popular Instagram schemes
We found that the best defense is to be aware of the more popular schemes on Instagram.
For example, if you know about questionable sellers, you’ll be more diligent in searching for reviews before buying anything from Instagram.
Also, now that you’re aware of fake gurus, you’ll be more skeptical the next time someone messages you about a highly profitable investment.
2. Set up two-factor authentication
You should also enable two-factor authentication, so no one can access your IG account without Instagram’s one-time password (OTP).
3. Be selective with third-party apps
Sometimes, you might need to use a third-party app, but connect only with reliable apps because they can also access your sensitive information.
4. Never click suspicious links
If someone asks you to visit a website urgently or else Instagram will take down your account, it’s most likely a scam.
Most fraudsters depend on the urgency to scare their victims and lure them into clicking a link and providing personal data.
It’s best to block the sender and report the account to Instagram.
5. Research about new stores and investments
If you want to buy from new shops or closing stores, we recommend searching for reviews first. Also, if someone asks you to invest in their fast-growing company, check if the business is legitimate.
These practices can protect you from fraudulent activities, not only on IG but also on other social media sites.
Is it possible to avoid Instagram hacking scams?
Hackers may have innovative techniques, but it doesn’t mean you can’t prevent them from hijacking your Instagram account.
In fact, you can avoid IG hacking scams by being aware of popular schemes. You can also set up two-factor authentication and refrain from clicking malicious links to protect your online accounts.