Watch out for Instagram hackers, they’re on the rise and pulling clever Instagram scams! Don’t fall victim to these digital rodents. It can cost you your entire Instagram account.
Recently a lot of celebrities including Robert Downey Jr and Jason Momoa had their Instagram accounts hacked. But these annoying hackers aren’t just targeting celebrity accounts, they’re also going after bloggers and influencers.
Monday morning, I received a strange collaboration pitch from a woman named Leia James. She had an approachable profile photo attached to her email and even cited a real Instagram boutique in her subject line. I read the email and straight from the jump I smelled something fishy.
8 Ways to Identify an Instagram Email Scam
I’ve been blogging for 11 years via my other blog Grimy Goods, and started my first Instagram profile in 2011. With this experience you grow a seasoned armor to keep your defenses up; however, not everyone is hip to easily identifying a scam. The digital world can be a tricky landscape to navigate, especially for newbies.
Follow the steps below to identify an Instagram email scam.
1. Email Copy Is Written Like a Third Grader
No offense to third graders, but if the body of a collaboration pitch email reads like a third grader wrote it, than it most likely is a scam. Besides, would you want to work with a company or brand that can’t follow simple grammar and syntax?
2. Check the Email Address of the Sender
I instantly felt the bad vibes once I saw the sender’s email: firstname.lastname@example.org. I don’t know about you, but that for damn sure doesn’t look like an official email from the boutique mentioned in the subject line; nor does it match the sender’s name: Leia James.
Please note: it’s not uncommon for smaller brands and businesses to hire interns with unofficial emails (i.e. they use Gmail, Yahoo, etc.). Although not a best practice, it’s pretty common. Like Wu-Tang Clan, always “protect ya neck” and reach out to the brand via their official email that is linked to their website, and forward them the email in question. This will help you verify if the email is from a legit source, and it will also alert the small business if they’re being used and abused.
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3. Don’t Click On Suspicious Email Links
NEVER click on a link within an email you don’t trust. This is how they get you! In my case, I clicked on the link. I knew what I was doing, but I also wanted to see how sophisticated their scam was. But don’t worry, I did not sign in my Instagram credentials. I didn’t even touch my keyboard. And just to be on the safe side, I wiped my cache clean and changed my Instagram password.
This hacker basically created a vanity URL that appeared as though you were signed out of Instagram and needed to sign back into the platform in order to shop their boutique for outfits. See the unofficial URL in the screenshot below? That’s a sure sign of an Instagram scam.
4. Don’t Key In Your Password
Let’s say you do click on a suspicious link out of curiosity; do not, and I mean DO NOT key-in your Instagram login and password. I know, and especially for thirsty “influencers” — the potential for a paid collab and / or free merch can be tempting. Tame yourself and don’t jump at every “opportunity” that comes your way (more on that later). If you do, you’re screwed.
5. Turn on Two-Factor Authentication
For additional security, Turn on two-factor authentication. However, from what I recently heard, two-factor authentication isn’t bullet-proof; but what is these days? Better to maximize all security measures than not.
6. Do Not Give Your Password to Anyone You Don’t Trust
Plain and simple: do not give your Instagram password to anyone you don’t trust. A lot of Instagram accounts with high followings, including celebrity accounts, hand over their Instagram credentials to interns, friends, and managers to help them out. That’s not always the best decision …
Using third-party apps can also leave your Instagram account vulnerable. As always, use your best judgement and choose wisely.
7. Change Your Password Regularly
To stay on the safe side, you should change your Instagram password regularly. Like every business quarter. When selecting a password, it’s best to create a random phrase or set of words with numerics. Hackers use crazy software to generate zillions of alpha and numeric possibilities to crack your ‘gram. It’s best to us a password like: ihatehackerssodamnMUCH!666 as opposed to 1234abc!.
And please for the love of sweet baby J, DO NOT use your wedding anniversary or your kid’s birthday.
8. Make Sure Your Email is Secure
If the email that is linked to your Instagram gets hacked, you’re leaving your Instagram wide open for swiping! And I’m not talking about the the good kind of swipe! Change the password regularly for your email account. And be sure to keep it unique from all other email accounts you own.
I know all these security measures can be a pain in the ass, but they will help keep your digital fortress solid. With that said, I leave you with some sage advice from the aforementioned Wu-Tang Clan.