Beware of fraud! The most common scams of cyber criminals on Instagram

On the occasion of the World Social Media Day on July 30, 2020, security experts warn of the increasing number of fraud cases on Instagram. The cyber criminals often follow certain patterns.

Instagram’s focus on lively images, high-quality content and the growing popularity of the platform offer cyber criminals an ideal basis for pretending to be honest, good people online. Security experts are therefore warning users of increasing fraud on the social media platform. Especially people who are not familiar with cybersecurity are an easy target. Platforms with a younger target group in particular are often used for digital fraud, because young people are more often considered naive. And here Instagram is exactly the right place to go. According to the latest data, 30 percent of Instagram users worldwide are between 18 and 24 years old. 35 percent aged 25 and 34. Overall, an incredible 72 percent of all teenagers use Instagram.

The scams of online scammers: here you should pay attention

Online fraudsters often fall back on a modus operandi, i.e. a trick that they use repeatedly with different users. Instagram identified these and divided them into categories.

The romantic fraud

These scammers try to build relationships online and gain the victim’s trust. Once successful, they claim to need money for a visa, flights, or other travel expenses.

The draw fraud

Lottery scammers pretend to be companies or other reliable accounts and inform users about a supposed win or prize in a competition that they probably didn’t even take part in. In exchange for the price, the fraudsters charge a small administrative or postage fee. They may also ask for personal information in order to use it for illegal purposes.

The credit fraud

These scammers offer loans at low interest rates or very small fees. After the first payment to the fraudsters, they will most likely disappear without a trace.

Fraud with fake investments

Here, the user is encouraged to use lurid calls such as “Get rich quickly” to invest in questionable concepts that ultimately turn out to be pyramid schemes. Once the victim makes the payment, both the fraudsters and the money disappear.

The job scam

Job scammers post fake job offers to get your personal information (such as ID number, address, and so on).

The credit card fraud

Fraudsters use stolen information to make online purchases or lure people with cheap products and services to steal their credit card information.

The paid subscriptions

Fraudsters offer paid subscriptions or lifelong access to the relevant platforms for a one-time payment.

The phishing scam

When phishing, someone tries to get the personal data by sending a suspicious message or a link in order to gain access to an Instagram account. If the fraudster manages to do this, he may also have access to the stored phone number and email address. However, he could also change the password and thus lock the user out of the account.

The wrong influencer sponsors

These scammers pretend to be real brands or companies that offer influencers an advertising deal. So they try to get the victim’s bank details.

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Instagram scams: how to protect yourself from cyber criminals

The amount of different scams seems overwhelming. However, security experts agree that an account should be safe from fraudsters if adequate protection is provided. Ruby Gonzalez, Head of Communications at NordVPN, provides four tips on how to protect yourself:

1. Use a secure password

Make sure you use a unique password that has never been compromised.

Password generators, such as NordPass, are a practical tool for creating strong passwords or checking whether a certain password has already been exposed to a hacker attack,

says Ruby Gonzalez.

2. Don’t share too much

Only provide the required personal information and do not share too much on social media. The less information you reveal, the less likely it is to be stolen.

3. Stay alert

It is always advisable to remain skeptical on social media. If an account looks suspicious and fake, trust your gut feeling and don’t interact with the person. If a link seems questionable, don’t click it. Also, do not enter personal information on suspicious websites. And if an offer like a competition, job or giveaway sounds too good to be true, then it is probably not real either. Fraudsters always try to attract people with things that are difficult to resist.

4. Set your profile to “private”

In many scams, the scammer tries to make first contact with you by following your account. Switching your profile to “private” gives you more control over who follows you and who can see your personal information.

Text and tips were kindly provided by NordVPN.

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