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Want to Get Verified on Instagram? Don’t Fall For These 3 Verification Scams

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Whether you’re a thought leader, influencer or entrepreneur, you probably have “get verified on Instagram” on your to-do list. And you should. The coveted blue check mark is valuable for any business leader, but especially for those whose work relies on having a positive public persona.

Not only does the check mark put you in an elite group — less than 5% of Instagram accounts are granted a verified status — but it also protects you from imposters hijacking your online presence. Which of the dozens of Ryan Reynolds’ Instagram accounts is the real one? The one with the blue check mark.

So, how do you get verified on Instagram? There are those who would tell you that the process is easy and requires only a little bit of time, a few forms and some money. Don’t believe them. Those people are scammers who are trying to get access to your private information or take your money.

As Instagram explains on its website, verification is something that is offered to those who “represent a well-known, highly searched-for person, brand or entity.” If that does not describe you or your brand, you should be suspicious of anyone who offers you an easy path to getting a blue check mark.

Here are three common Instagram verification scams you should be careful to avoid.

Related: Is That Instagram Email a Phishing Attack? Now You Can Find Out.

1. Don’t trust an invitation to apply

If you are a well-known person or represent a well-known brand, you can apply on your own to be considered for verification. Once you apply, you should expect a response within 30 days. What you should not expect is that Instagram will reach out to you to let you know that you are eligible for verification if you have not applied for that status.

A recent Instagram verification scam lured people in through email messages saying they were eligible for the blue check mark. The next step, according to the email, was to supply the email address associated with the account and the password.

This scam utilizes a strategy commonly known as phishing, in which bad actors hope to entice someone to provide them with private information by offering them something of value. The information phished for can include usernames, passwords, bank account numbers, social security numbers and more. Once the information is obtained, the account can be hacked to obtain more information, use it for illegitimate purposes, and even lock the genuine account owner out in some cases.

This Instagram phishing scam walked its victims through a series of forms that gathered information, all with the promise that it would result in obtaining the blue check mark. The fact that the forms were hosted on “instagramforbusiness.info,” rather than the company’s “instagram.com” site, was a telltale sign that it was not a legitimate process.

Related: Why Having a Personal Brand Is Crucial to Making Money Online (and How to Build Yours)

2. Don’t trust a message saying that you have been pre-approved

Another phishing scam goes a step further by informing the target that they have already been approved and only need to click on a link to claim their check mark. Instagram will not approve you for verification on its own initiative. Even if you have applied for verification, this type of message should still be viewed as suspicious.

Instagram says on its website that it will inform applicants that they have been approved for verification through a notification that will appear in the Activity tab in the Instagram app. It expressly states that it will never “reach out to ask you to confirm your verification.”

When an email message seems suspicious, reviewing the originating address is one way to quickly reveal . An example of an Instagram verification scam uncovered in early 2022 involved targets receiving messages from “info@business-objectionchannel.com” that promised verification. Some sleuthing revealed that the domain name “business-objectionchannel.com” had been recently registered.

Related: Instagram’s Verification Self-Submission Form Update Allows for a More Complete Verification Request

3. Don’t trust a promise to deliver verification for a fee

Because Instagram’s verification is not something that can be purchased, any offer to provide verification in exchange for a fee, regardless of the dollar amount, will almost certainly be a scam. This is especially true when the offer requires only a fee and no other information.

An Instagram verification scam uncovered in South Florida in 2021 not only promised verification for as little as $50 but also provided victims with screenshots that showed message exchanges between the scammers and local celebrities who used the service. The messages were later discovered to be fabricated. Those who paid for the service did not get what they were promised.

However, there are legitimate businesses, such as public relations firms, that can help get their clients verified on Instagram and other social media platforms for a fee. The distinction with those businesses is that they first help their clients to become notable through media appearances, thus making them eligible for verification.

Overall, it is important to remember that verification — on Instagram and other social media platforms — serves the purpose of authenticating notable accounts. In other words, it is the way Instagram helps its users to connect with the true Ryan Reynolds. As such, it is not something that is easy to obtain.

For entrepreneurs, thought leaders and influencers, achieving a blue checkmark is often seen as something that can boost their credibility, even if they have not yet achieved the “notable” status that justifies verification. If that is where you are, be careful. Your desire to become verified could result in you falling victim to a scam.

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