Top Instagram Scams You Need to Be Aware of (And How to Avoid Them)

Instagram is one of if not the most popular social media networks right now, and that means there’s a lot of potential for cybercriminals to scam people who are just looking to have a good time on the platform. 

Believe it or not, there are quite a few scams going around on Instagram.

Sure, some might be a bit too obvious, but others are pretty hard to tell if they’re real or not.

Instagram Scams

If you love using Instagram, here are some of the most popular Instagram scams you should be aware of.

DM Phishing Scams

Phishing is a really old scam method in which a person pretends to be someone else to gain the victim’s trust. They usually impersonate a company to make the victim share personal information like login credentials, so they can later use it for their own benefit. 

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Unfortunately, phishing is a classic way to scam people, and it still works to this day.

On Instagram, people try phishing scams in the victims’ DMs (direct messages). Someone might impersonate a company or an influencer to try to convince you to buy something, click on a malicious link, or share your personal information.

Investment Scams

Investment scams have also been around for a while, and they’ve been working since the internet became a thing. 

This scam can work in two ways. First, someone might reach out to you to tell you that you should invest in something specific. Second, they could have a popular profile telling people the “best” places to invest their money. Unfortunately, because of the rise in the popularity of cryptocurrency and NFTs, investment scams have become even more popular. Since it’s a digital currency or an image, the price can be pretty much anything the scammer wants it to be, making it hard to know which ones might be legit or not.

Get Rich Quick Schemes

This form of scam is similar to investment scams. People would tell you they have a business idea, a trading strategy, or a product that’s going to make you a millionaire overnight. The only thing you need to do is pay for someone’s course, and you’ll be good to go! Or not.

The coaching or courses might be really expensive, but since you’re supposed to make your money back overnight, a lot of people fall for it.

Unfortunately, even the most popular and influential people on the platform might have a similar scheme, so it’s pretty hard to know who you can trust. Overall, it’s best to be cautious with everyone you meet online or on Instagram. 

Giveaways

There are tons of giveaways on Instagram, and some of them are real, and they give away pretty cool stuff. Others, however, are nothing more than scams. Oftentimes, scammers will even impersonate real giveaway offers.

Some giveaways are only meant to steal information or even real money from you. It’s best to avoid giveaways that might force you to go to a different website and share your information unless you really know and trust the company or person behind the giveaway. When in doubt, send an email to get more information.

Catfishing

Catfishing is a unique way to scam people. A person will pretend to be someone else, so they can talk to you and get you to like them. In a lot of cases, they do it to meet new people, and they feel more comfortable pretending to be someone else and using pictures of another person. In other cases, they might impersonate someone else to try to get something out of you ($$$) or try to lure you into a real-life place, so you’re an easy target. 

Offers to Buy Followers

If you’re an influencer or trying to be one, it might cross your mind that you could increase your brand numbers by buying followers. You might even get DMs asking if you want to buy followers for a really low price. Overall, don’t trust the people reaching out to you to sell likes and followers. It’s possible they might just want to scam you and take your money. 

As a side note, buying followers might end up hurting your Instagram page, so try to avoid it if you really want to build up your brand. 

How to Avoid Instagram Scams

There are many ways to avoid getting scammed on Instagram:

Don’t Over Share on Instagram

Sharing too much on Instagram is never a good idea. Not only could you share too much personal information, but you’re also making yourself a target for criminals looking for people to scam. Of course, if you’re an influencer or a brand, this might be hard for you, but try to keep personal stuff to a minimum. 

That goes for DMs too. Try to avoid sharing too much in your direct messages so that other people don’t know much about you.

Keep Your Profile Private

A great way to avoid being a target is to keep your profile private. That way, no one who isn’t following you will be able to see your pictures, and you’ll also be able to control who follows you. Again, if you’re an influencer, this is pretty much impossible to do, but it’s something worth keeping in mind for your personal account. 

Avoid Shady Profiles

There are a lot of shady profiles out there. Users with a weird username and no pictures in their profiles. It’s possible these users are harmless, but you should stay away from them just to be safe. If a shady-looking profile asks to follow you, it’s best to get rid of them to avoid any issues. You can go a step further and block these people so they don’t try anything else. 

Report Any Suspicious Activity

You can report any profile on Instagram, so use this feature whenever you interact with or see a shady profile. Not only will you be helping yourself, but you might even help others that could have fallen into a scam.

Make Sure You’re Talking to the Real Person

It’s hard to know who is behind a profile, but you should try to make sure you know who the person on the other side is before sharing anything or agreeing to see each other. 

If it’s a potential date, ask them to join a FaceTime or Zoom call so you can see what they look like. If they say they don’t want to or that they don’t have a camera, that’s way too suspicious for today’s standards.

Likewise, check their profiles first if a company or an influencer reached out to you to give you a present or a special offer. Make sure their username is spelled out correctly, and make sure the account is verified before even interacting with them. 

Overall, Use Your Common Sense

It might be hard to tell real profiles from the scammy ones, but your common sense should help you. If you feel like something isn’t right with the other person, the giveaway, or the link someone shared, then you should just stop talking to them and even consider blocking them. Good luck!

Instagram App Credit: Souvik Banerjee / Unsplash