Instagram safety tips
Instagram makes it surprisingly easy for scammers. The low barrier to entry means that users are more likely to like or share a picture, because what could it hurt? Well, even a like can give scammers access to personal information like your username, real name, and even location.
Get help or report fraud on Instagram
Below are a few tips for avoiding a potential scam:
- Does the profile name have "giveaway" or "_ig" in it? If so, it's probably not legitimate. Think about it — why would a company create a new profile just for promotions and have to build up a following all over again, when they already have a profile?
- Check the pictures posted on the account. This seems like a no-brainer, but have they been posting for an extended period of time? Are the pictures more than just offers for free stuff? Is there even more than one picture?
- Are the rules and regulations for the contest clearly displayed? No brand would post a contest without covering the fine print first.
- Are you asked to share personal information, like an email address, or worse, your password? No legitimate company would ask you to do this. Ever.
- Does the contest require that you click on a shortened URL? It's probably leading you to a less-than-trustworthy site that can put spyware or malware on your computer.
Instagram scams & students
Recently, fraudsters have been messaging students via Instagram. The topic of the message is usually of interest to college students, such as “saving money with this new app.” This message will be followed by a link (usually a URL shortened with bit.ly). Once clicked, this link will authorize the third party to have access to your Instagram account. Fraudsters will now use your account to post advertisements on your profile, message your friends, and comment on ads/ spam on people’s posts.
- Do not open messages from unknown users. If you do not know who the person is, ignore the message. If you see a link you are not familiar with, do not click it.
- If you have already clicked the link and are experiencing suspicious activity, check your authorized applications list. You can do this by logging in on a web browser and going to Edit Profile > Authorized Applications > Remove Unknown App.
- To be safe, change your password too.