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Don’t be fooled by these insidious Instagram DM phishing scams

Published Mar 29th, 2021 8:22PM EDT
Instagram scams
Image: Facebook

From robocalls to spam texts to mysterious login attempts, account security is as important now as it has ever been. You should be doing everything in your power to keep your online accounts safe and to avoid any blatant scams. The big problem is that not all scams are as obvious as a call telling you that there’s a warrant out for your arrest, which is why Instagram tweeted out a word of warning about DMs that claim to be from the company.

Instagram says some users have been receiving DMs that appear to be from the company’s “Copyright Help Center,” informing the users that one of their posts contains a “copyright violation.”

The DM threatens to shut down their account if they don’t “provide feedback” explaining why the post doesn’t infringe on any copyrights. Notably, the DM doesn’t give the user the choice of simply deleting the post. There is also a link at the bottom of the DM to a site that is not owned or run by the parent company Facebook.

“Instagram will never DM you about Copyright violations or ever ask for any of your personal details like passwords etc.” the video in the tweet explains. “DO NOT CLICK OR REPLY.” Now, there is a legitimate way that Instagram can get in touch with you, but it will never be with direct messages. If you want to check and see whether or not you have received any messages from Instagram, go to Settings > Security > Emails From Instagram.

Since you’re already messing around in the Settings menu, this would also be a good time to turn on two-factor authentication, which could save your account from being invaded if someone ever figures out your password. Here are the steps you need to take to turn on 2FA from with the Instagram mobile app:

  • Go to Settings > Security > Two-Factor Authentication
  • Click on the Get Started button at the bottom of the screen
  • Choose between using an authentication app or a text message
    • If you don’t have an authentication app, Google Authenticator is an easy option
  • If you choose the app method, you’ll get the code from the app to enter on Instagram
  • If you choose the text method, you’ll receive a text message with a code instead
  • You will be presented with a bunch of backup codes that you can use to access your account in case you lose your phone or can’t receive a 2FA code. Take a screenshot of these codes.

Now that you’ve turned 2FA on and learned the truth about those sketchy copyright DMs, you should be able to enjoy Instagram without putting yourself at constant risk of being hacked or scammed. Way to go!

Jacob Siegal
Jacob Siegal Associate Editor

Jacob Siegal is Associate Editor at BGR, having joined the news team in 2013. He has over a decade of professional writing and editing experience, and helps to lead our technology and entertainment product launch and movie release coverage.