Don’t Fall for This Instagram Scam
Popular social media apps like Instagram have billions of users. It’s a staggering amount of people, but to hackers, it’s an opportunity. While scams on Instagram aren’t new, there is an emerging scheme that is dangerous, since it plays off of a real Instagram feature.
A new Instagram scam (or Instascam) has started to hit user’s direct messages. Here’s how the scam plays out: You see you have a new message or two from one of your Instagram friends. The friend tells you the unfortunate story that they’ve lost access to their Instagram account, and they’re trying to gain it back. Apparently, Instagram has chosen you as one of the friend’s account recovery trustees, so you’ll need to share a code with the friend in order to help them gain access to the account.
This is a scam. However, like the best lies, the scam is rooted in some truth. Instagram does have an account recovery feature, wherein you choose friends to act as account recovery contacts. If you lose access to your account, these friends can help you get it back. Because of that legitimate feature, some may think these messages are also legitimate, and try to help out the ”friend” in need.
The problem is this isn’t how the feature works at all. First of all, you won’t be chosen by Instagram: Your friend choses which contacts they want to use for account recovery. Second, if the friend doesn’t actually have access to their Instagram account, they wouldn’t be able to message you from the Instagram account. In all likelihood, the account was hacked, and the hackers are trying to trick the account’s friends into giving up personal information.
If you receive a message like this, be careful. Contact the friend separately, outside of Instagram, either through text message, email, third-party messaging app, or by a phone call. That way, they can confirm whether or not they were hacked, or you can alert them to this malicious activity.