Protect your Instagram account information

In a new social media scam, crooks are not only trying to gain access to victims’ Instagram accounts, but also their emails! This scam can get tricky and can be easy to discover. As always, it is important to protect your personal information. Scammers don’t need a lot of information to hack into accounts and steal vital information.

The scam begins when a victim receives an email that appears to be Instagram accusing them of violating copyright laws and threatening to deactivate their account within 24 hours if they do not prove that their account is real and legal. The email contains a link to “verify” the user’s account and claims that this is the only way to prove that the user’s account is legitimate. Once the user clicks on the link, they are redirected to a website that prompts them to enter their Instagram username and password. While many scams may stop there, this one doesn’t!

Immediately, another message appears and the popup says that the user needs to verify their email address as well. A list of email 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, making the process look like it was legit. This last step may cause victims not to report the scam, because by the time they realize their information has been stolen, it’s too late.

Follow BBB’s advice to avoid this social media scam:

• 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 indicators of email scams. Also, make sure the “from” address is from the company it claims to be.

• Understand how companies manage 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?

• Investigate complaints. Do not act without first checking the claims. Log in to your account or find the company’s official phone number (check your invoice or welcome email) and call them to confirm that there really is a case of suspicious activity associated with your account before deciding what to do.

• Don’t panic or feel intimidated. Scammers want to freak you out. They may use intimidation tactics, such as claiming that your account will be closed in 24 hours, to pressure you into giving up your personal information or making payments. Legit companies won’t bully you that way. Stay calm and think carefully before you act.

For more tips from BBB, visit BBB.org. And if you spot a scam, whether or not you lost money, 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.

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