Instagram Scams: What You Need to Know

Phishing Scams on Instagram: How to Protect Your Account?
Instagram scams may threaten your personal data and compromise your account

Instagram, one of the world’s most popular social media platforms, turns out to be far from secure for its users. Serious security issues often arise, leading to the loss of accounts and personal data. However, the most unpleasant part awaits you ahead. When you try to recover your data, you’ll realize that the support is not always as helpful as you wanted it to be. But how to protect yourself against Instagram scams? Let’s have a peek.

Phishing in Instagram

First and foremost, let’s review what do we have to deal with, precisely – which Instagram scams can you face. Phishing in Instagram is not significantly different from classic phishing. This attack involves malicious actors attempting to gain access to user accounts by deceiving them. Overall, it can be categorized into three types:

Fake messages

Probably, the most often case of Instagram scams is one which uses fake messages. These can be messages from fake stores offering barter deals (even if you have minimum followers) or from dubious persons with incredible offers. Often, these messages come from users with a username like @te2togwaste, who have only one follower, and claim that you have won a lottery, while sending you the profile of an original brand.

Fake offer Instagram
Partnership Proposal from a Fictitious Jewelry Brand

Another method is receiving messages from pseudo-Instagram support. It is likely that the message will be about an attempt to hack your account and a suggestion to click on a link to prevent it. Typically, such messages come from an unknown phone number or from someone like @instsupport002 directly in the app’s direct messages. In these cases, the goal is to trick you into providing personal information or clicking on a “magical” link with the same intention. You may not notice the scam effects first, but be sure – it will surface at some point. In its guidelines, Instagram asks to report such accounts and contact a real support if there’s a possibility of account compromise. This approach is right, but I have several other pieces of advice – so keep reading.

Investments scam accounts

Investment scam is certainly the most odious kind of a scam, that was depicted in movies and met by almost everyone. Among Instagram scams, it gained increased popularity since 2020, particularly during the cryptoboom. There is a chance of coming across an investment account with a decent audience of up to 20K. Such a number of followers can inspire trust. These accounts will offer “profitable investments” and “guaranteed success”, various pyramid schemes, and so on.

The methods used by these scammers to lure their potential victims may include sending private messages inviting them to participate in lucrative programs, offering individual consultations, or even showcasing “real profit” charts. These scammers create the appearance of reputable investment companies or successful traders. You may see professionally designed accounts, photos of luxurious cars, vacations at exotic resorts, and lavish houses. Though, it is worth noting that a couple of minutes of open-source intelligence will reveal you the ability to rent all this luxury stuff hourly or daily.

Instagram scams financial
Example of Fraudulent Financial Offer on Instagram

A characteristic trait of scammers of this type is phrases like “I don’t understand why people still use *something* and don’t know that you can make money from it…” or “How I made $1000 in just a couple of days.” And all for one purpose – to make you send them money. Crooks can ask for minor sums first, quickly inflating their demand to several thousand dollars. At the end, they either block you or simply ignore any questions regarding the deposit. If you detect such a profile – well, you cannot do a whole lot except contacting support.

Celebrity phishing

Or simply whaling. Judging by the name, it is clear that these Instagram scams use big fish as a bait, in this case, the pages of large network restaurants, celebrities, or trusted brands that the audience relies on. Scammers “borrow” some power from the image of who they try to mimic, and then use it to satisfy their nefarious desires, manipulations, and schemes.

Account owners will do everything possible to get rid of this fraudulent parody. Unfortunately, they don’t have a lot of options: either ask the audience to report the fake or to contact Instagram support. The latter, though, may be problematic, to say the least.

Instagram Support – Is It Effective?

You may have noticed that I mentioned contacting support as a prevalent option for any cases of Instagram scams. But, thing is, Instagram support may be frustrating to use. Alongside the phishing problem, another serious concern for Instagram users is the poor performance of the platform’s support team. Many users report the inefficiency and lack of response from the Instagram support. This problem persists for years, and have already created a lot of sour feedback from the users.

When users encounter problems such as account access loss or other issues, they obviously turn to Instagram support for help. However, many of them experience disappointment due to the lack of response, its slowness, or the inability to receive clarification regarding their problems. This creates an impression that the support team is either incapable or uninterested in resolving user issues. Naturally, this causes significant stress for users and jeopardizes their personal security and confidentiality.

What Can You Do?

Unfortunately, it is unlikely that Instagram will change its approach to this situation in the near future. However, here are a few tips to keep your personal data safe:

  • Set up two-factor authentication (2FA) for your account. Use a third-party authentication app like Google Authenticator or Microsoft Authenticator instead of relying on SMS messages. SMS-based 2FA can be vulnerable to hacker attacks. There are plenty of options for effective and secure multi-factor authentication – be sure to check all of them.
2FA Instagram
Guide on How to Enable Two-Factor Authentication
  • Use a strong password for your account. Avoid using obvious passwords such as “123456” or “password.”
  • Instagram allows you to review all the places and devices where you have logged into your account. If you notice unfamiliar sessions, such as from Vietnam where you have never been, immediately log them out and change your password.
  • Be cautious with messages from unknown users. Do not open links provided in such messages as they may lead to scam pages or contain harmful software.
  • It is important to remember that no legitimate company or trader will invite you to participate in investment programs through personal messages on Instagram.
  • Lastly, consider the possibility of using other social media platforms and apps that offer similar features. For example, Flickr, Imgur, Pinterest, or Retrica could be alternatives for you.

By Stephanie Adlam

I write about how to make your Internet browsing comfortable and safe. The modern digital world is worth being a part of, and I want to show you how to do it properly.

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