The Facebook-owned social network Instagram is a fount of shared content: photos, videos, GIFs, screenshots and more.
Much of this content is user-generated by the individual sharing it, but other such content comes from other primary sources, opening up the possibility for claims of copyright infringement.
As Instagram becomes increasingly popular with users, it becomes more and more vulnerable to use by scammers as yet another way to steal money and valuable personal data from unsuspecting innocents.
Learn how scammers are now using Instagram to perpetrate a form of copyright infringement claim scam and how to protect yourself and your Instagram account from them.
What Are Instagram Copyright Infringement Notification Scams?
Instagram copyright infringement notification scam are a form of phishing scam.
In a phishing scam, a victim receives an e-mail, text or notification that appears to come from a source well known to the victim, such as his or her bank, ISP or mortgage lender, in an attempt to get the victim to inadvertently provide private personal information.
The perpetrator can, then, use this personal information to conduct all sorts of crimes, including taking out bad loans in the victim’s name and, even, stealing money straight from the victim’s bank account.
In an Instagram copyright infringement notification scam, the phishing attempt takes the form of a fraudulent notification purportedly from Instagram itself that you have violated someone’s copyright protection under the law on the platform.
The notification goes on to threaten to close your account permanently and delete all the content it contains if you don’t file an appeal within a set time frame (usually 24 to 48 hours.)
To file such an appeal, you are “conveniently” provided with a button to click.
When you click that button, however, you are taken to a dummy site that looks like part of Instagram but is actually run by the scammers.
Here, you must provide personal information in order to submit your appeal.
Any such information you provide, the scammer collects and can, then, use to perpetrate identity theft and related crimes.
To make the scam more insidious and hard to identify, after you provide the information the scammers are seeking, they will often, then, redirect you to the actual Instagram site, thereby making their claim of legitimacy seem all the more credible.
Types of Instagram Copyright Infringement Notification Scams
Some of the actions an Instagram copyright infringement notification scam phishing attempt may ask you to:
- Log into Instagram – Thereby handing over your IG login info and giving the scammers access. They can, then, change your login and recovery info, locking you out of your own Instagram account. Once they’ve done that, they can proceed to demand you pay a ransom in order to regain control of your Instagram account. If you fail to comply, they may threaten to disseminate spam and other malicious content to your contacts through your account, making it look to all of them as though you, in fact, are the perpetrator.
- Verify your email – Thereby giving the scammers access to your email account, exposing you to a host of other prospective scams.
Red Flags to Look Out For
Always find out the exact email address or return contact info of any sender of any notification you receive.
If it’s a URL, it should be Instagram.com. Beware of misspelled or deceptively-spelled URLs, such as Insagram.com or 1nstagram.com.
Beware as well of URLs that incorporate the familiar term, such as instagram-security.com or instagram.security.com.
Prime Target: Influencers
Most red flags to look out for are signs the perpetrator betrays. Sometimes, however, one of the key red flags to note can be an indication that you present a particularly prime target for a certain type of scam.
In the case of Instagram copyright infringement notification scams, that means influencers.
Instagram influencers, or those with a lot of Instagram followers, are the primary targets of scammers perpetrating this particular type of scam.
Therefore, if you are “InstaFamous” (as they say,) you should be more cautious than most about suspicious notifications that may well be from scammers trying to take advantage of your popularity.
Tips on How to Protect Your Information
- Never click on a suspicious link in an email, text or notification – If you’re concerned that a correspondence, such as an Instagram copyright infringement notification, may, in fact, be legitimate, contact Instagram directly without clicking any part of the notification itself. Look up the Instagram contact information on Google or browse to Instagram.com directly in your browser and check your notifications or contact support through the website or app.
- Never log in to Instagram using a third-party app – Don’t enter your Instagram login credentials manually to authenticate any third-party app or services. Only use the official Instagram iOS app from the Apple App Store or official Instagram Android app from the Google Play store.
- Enable two-factor authentication – For extra login protection, enable two-factor authentication protocols on both your email and Instagram accounts.
- Install a quality email security solution – Don’t just rely on the security offered by your email provider to protect you from phishing scams like this. Install additional email security software onto your system or your email software.
- Padlocks don’t always equal security – When you see a padlock icon in the left side of the URL bar in your browser, you are inclined to think you are visiting a safe domain.
This, however, can lead you to mistakenly trust an untrustworthy site.
Scammers can purchase a security certificate for any domain they own, including domains with misleading URLS like:
Making matters worse, on some smaller browser windows, such as mobile browsers on smartphones, all that may be readable is https://instagram.co before the rest is cut off.
If you believe you may have been the victim or attempted victim of an Instagram copyright infringement notification scam, contact the following immediately to report it: