In a new social media scam, con-artists are not only trying to get into victims’ Instagram accounts – but their emails too! This scam can get tricky and might be easy to stumble on so as always, it’s important to be protective over your personal information. Scammers don’t need much information to hack accounts and steal vital information.
The scam begins when a victim receives an email that looks to be Instagram accusing them of violating copyright laws and threatening to deactivate their account in 24 hours if they do not prove their account is real and legal. The email contains a link to “verify” the user’s account and claims it is the only way to prove the user’s account is legitimate. Once the user clicks on the link, they’re redirected to a website that prompts them to input their Instagram username and password. While many scams may end there, this one doesn’t!
Immediately, another message appears, and the pop-up claims that the user must also verify their email address. A list of e-mail providers is displayed with instructions for the user to choose theirs. They will then be prompted to enter their email address and password. To top it off, once the email and password are entered, the scam site redirects to the real Instagram website, which makes it look as if the process was legitimate. This final step can fool victims into not reporting the scam because by the time they realize their information has been stolen, it’s too late.
Use BBB’s tips to avoid this social media scam:
• Double check the “from” email address and link destinations. Hover over any links in an email you receive to see where the link really leads. Suspicious links are one of the main giveaways of email scams. Also, make sure the “from” address is actually from the business it claims to be.
• Understand how businesses handle communications. If you know how a company handles disputes and suspicious activity with your account, it will be easier to spot a scam. Will they email you? Call? Send a text message?
• Look into the claims. Don’t act without first verifying the claims. Log into your account or look up the company’s official phone number (check your bill or welcome email) and call them to confirm that there really is a case of suspicious activity associated with your account before you decide what to do.
• Don’t panic and don’t feel intimidated. Scammers want you to panic. They may use intimidation tactics, such as claiming your account will be shut down in 24 hours, to pressure you into giving up your personal information or making payments. Legitimate businesses will not intimidate you in this way. Stay calm and think things through before you act.
For more tips from BBB, visit BBB.org. And if you spot a scam, whether you have lost money or not, report it to BBB’s Scam Tracker at BBB.org/ScamTracker and the FTC at ReportFraud.ftc.gov. Your story can help other consumers avoid similar scams.
Rick Walz is the President and CEO of the Better Business Bureau serving Northern Indiana, which serves 23 counties. Contact the BBB at 800-552-4631 or visit www.bbb.org.