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Locked out of your social media account? Watch out for scammers promising to help

Picture this: You settle down in the evening, ready to scroll through social media. Noticing that you are signed out, you try to log in multiple times. But it appears that you are locked out. You could follow these steps to get back in, but what if that doesn’t work?

Some would reach out to others for advice on a different social media platform. And if you are in luck, a professional recovery company will offer to assist you. There are several ways they go about it, for a fee, of course.

It might seem like your only option but read on to see how some of these service companies are nothing more than scammers.

Here’s the backstory

Discovering that you are locked out of your social media account can cause you to go into a mild panic. Plenty of sites and services use information from social media accounts, so losing access to one can lead to a ripple effect on others.

If you find yourself in such a situation, it could be tempting to accept the help of more knowledgeable people. But this comes with considerable risk, as Vice’s Motherboard recently found out.

Using a Twitter account with no followers, the publication tweeted that they needed help with a hacked account. Almost immediately, the tweet got replies from automated bots. Users can trigger bot replies for specific keywords.

From the onset, it was clear that most of these replies were from accounts trying to make a quick buck or steal user information. Ranging from “DM for recovery” to “contact this person on Instagram.” None was beneficial.

Reaching out for more details on the recovery process, messages to the alleged specialists quickly showed signs of scams. For $65, an account claimed that it could recover any social media profile and only needed the associated phone number or email address.

The right tools for the job also need to be purchased, which the scammer claimed would be another $65. “I have to purchase a firewall booster online,” reads the reply, explaining that “it’s a 3D injection tool which we use to reset account network.”

If that wasn’t a dead giveaway, the account accepted payment in Bitcoin, Ethereum, or via Zelle, PayPal or Cash App. Finally, a firewall booster is standard router firmware that includes network virus scans and, ironically, anti-bot protection.

What you can do about it

A locked-out account can be alarming, but there are a few things that you should try before reaching out to strangers and potential scammers. Your most effective account recovery method will be to directly contact the social media platform.

Deciding to go with a professional service, they might ask you for login details. It’s standard practice for reputable companies, but risks are also involved. Before you hand over any data, do as much research on the company as possible.

But your first action should be to contact the platform. Here’s how:

Keep reading

Scam alert: Avoid these personalized ads on social media

How to juggle your many social media accounts – 3 strategies to manage your online presence

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