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Security & privacy

Watch out for this new Instagram scam

Try to imagine the internet without scams and grifters. It’s difficult, right? That’s because scams are deeply ingrained into online culture — from shopping sites to personals ads, and even on social media. If you don’t have a social media footprint, it’s easy to remain anonymous on the web. That’s why, even in the present day, the internet is still the go-to medium for all varieties of schemers.

Of all social platforms, Instagram stands apart as one of the most lucrative for sales and marketing. Studies show that 80% of users follow a business of some kind, and with the company rolling out new advertising measures, there’s never been a better time to be a vendor on Instagram. And scammers, of course, are taking advantage of this fact as well.

If you use Instagram at all, you’ve probably run into your fair share of shady advertisements or spam accounts. A new scam making the rounds, however, does more than just sell counterfeit clothes. Unsuspecting users are having their accounts hijacked by the scammer — who uses them to post even more spam! Here’s what you need to know, as well as how to protect yourself from it.

How is this new Instagram scam hijacking user accounts?

If you’ve seen anyone on your feed or in your message inbox posting about deals on Ray-Ban glasses, you’ve already run into a major scam that’s infesting the platform. A number of Instagram users have reported seeing an increased volume of spam related to Ray-Ban sunglasses — complete with enticing discounts up to “90% off.”

Of course, these deals aren’t real, but that isn’t stopping users from following the links posted by spam accounts and potentially exposing themselves to phishing or worse.

What makes this particular scam so insidious is how it worms its way into existing Instagram users’ accounts and posts on their behalf. As of now, security specialists from Kaspersky Labs are saying it’s unknown how so many Instagram accounts were compromised by this spammer.

In a recent article posted by Mirror UK, the firm discussed a number of theories as to how the hacker got in, including login credentials stolen from data breaches, phishing schemes, or even guessing common passwords.

One thing is for sure, though: if you see posts or messages on your feed promoting killer savings on Ray-Bans, it’s a major red flag. Even if the posts come from trusted friends, or arrive in your account as a message, make sure to ignore and avoid opening if possible.

How can I protect myself against the Ray-Ban spam?

Right now, the best course of action to fight against this threat is to avoid encountering it at all costs. Never click on strange links — even if a friend offers it to you — unless you know exactly where it goes.

At the same time, you’ll also want to make sure you’re avoiding needless connections with accounts that appear suspicious. Even if you’re trying to boost your follower account, connecting with a known spammer can not only put you at risk but everyone that follows you as well.


Related: The CIA’s first Instagram post has people scratching their heads


Most importantly, you’ll want to make sure to reset your Instagram password. If any hacker or scammer has compromised your account, changing the password will force them out of it. With no way to log back in, your information should be safe, as well as your friends and followers.

To change your password on Instagram, simply open your profile, tap on the 3 line icon in the upper right corner, and select Settings at the bottom of the menu that pops out. From here, you’ll tap on Privacy. This page will have all the options to change your password. It’s also recommended to enable “2 step authentication” as well, which is one of the strongest methods to protect your account from compromise.

Once your account is locked-down, scammers should have a much more difficult time exploiting it to their own end.

Stay safe, and stay aware online. You never know when the next scam will come, but being prepared is the best defense against all kinds of cybercrime.

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