Social media is a world of endless opportunity, especially Instagram. From connecting with loved ones to building business empires from the safety of your home, your imagination is the limit. Unfortunately, there is also an increasing number of people who are looking to take advantage of it in the wrong ways.
These days, it’s pretty common to come across shady accounts on Instagram offering jobs, followers, supposedly free stuff, and more. Here’s how to spot some of the most common Instagram scams happening today.
1. Companies Offering Cheap Followers
When it comes to Instagram, the number of followers you have matters. In many ways, a larger following can give the illusion of credibility, trust, and influence. In fact, it’s one of the most basic things that companies check when searching for people to choose as influencers.
However, it’s also true that the quality of followers is just as important as the quantity. After Instagram transitioned to an algorithm-based feed instead of chronological order, most followers won’t even see your content if Instagram doesn’t deem it engaging enough.
Unfortunately, there are several companies still seeking to take advantage of users who want the vanity metrics of a large following. Promising cheap followers, these companies will ask you for payment information such as your credit card details and Instagram log in information to proceed. With these, they can gain access to your account and steal your identity.
2. Job Scams
Job applications are the perfect guise for threat actors to get important, Personally Identifiable Information (PII) about you in a quick manner. This is because it’s actually quite common for real recruiters to ask for your CV or resume, which may contain things like your home address, school affiliations, and contact details.
Job scams are some of the best ways to gather information for identity theft. A key way to identify job scams is by checking on official company pages and seeing if the positions listed are the same.
Aside from this, it’s also good to check if there is an official company portal wherein you can send your information. Instead of a personal email address from a recruiter, an official company email or website is a safer way of applying for a new role.
3. Rip-Off Courses
There has been an exponential rise in fake gurus selling courses on things that they have no business talking about. With no credentials to back them up, these courses often target people who are looking to shift careers, break into a new industry, or earn additional money.
While not all courses are scams, there’s definitely a growing number of courses that just aren’t worth your money. Rip-off classes can be identified through checking online forums where people can share their experiences. In addition, doing a quick search of the background of those making the courses on LinkedIn or Google can reveal if they are credible or not.
For example, if a person is selling a course to grow your Instagram following while they have a small following of their own, you can already spot that they’re all talk and no walk.
4. Romance Scams
While love scams have been around since the dawn of the internet, Instagram takes romance scams to the next level. Acting like a digital catalog, many scammers use Instagram to attract unsuspecting people who are craving human connection.
Often, romance scam artists also participate in identity theft. Using photos of attractive men or women, these scammers tend to craft a fake, but believable persona and nurture a potential victim with visions of love.
After a victim is comfortable, scam artists tend to request money. In most cases, they will ask you to send it to accounts that do not require identity verification to withdraw, such as Cash App. First, it is often small, negligible amounts. Then, they will slowly ask for increasingly larger sums of cash.
5. Brand Ambassador Scams
As many people seek to make careers out of social media and so become influencers, brands have taken a nefarious approach to taking advantage of them.
Through selling them the idea of being ambassadors, brands convince aspiring influencers to pay for shipping on supposedly free products. However, the cost of shipping is often absurdly high because it actually factors in the cost of the actual item.
When checking for legitimate influencer partnerships, one of the key signs is when they do not ask you to pay for anything to receive their product. In addition, real influencer partnerships are also paid, whether up front or through affiliate codes that your followers can issue at checkout.
6. Fake Giveaways
Growing your Instagram following in a sea of competitors can be tough. For this reason, many brands opt to have various campaigns to increase their follower count. One of the common ways that they do this is through giveaways.
Unfortunately, many scammers have also realized how these giveaways can be used to gather information from unsuspecting people. In some cases, scammers attempt to copy the profile of a legitimate brand and host a fake giveaway.
Once they receive enough responses, the scammers then select the “winners” of the scam. On the guise of sending their prize, scammers will then ask for information like your name, contact details, and other information that can be used to steal your identity.
Keep Instagram Safe and Enjoyable
To avoid being scammed on Instagram, you need to be mindful of the people you interact with online, even those who you may know in real life. Sometimes, scammers are closer to us than we think.
When it comes to avoiding Instagram scams, common sense is not always so common. Before sending any PII, it’s best to double-check official channels from companies or individuals. Make sure you gather enough proof before you engage with anyone.
Scammers are working smarter and doing their best to appear legitimate in their attempts to waste your time, steal your money, or take your online identity. However, you don’t have to fall for it.
Here are all our best articles on how to stay secure while browsing the web, using your computer, using your phone, and more!
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