Account impersonators are a terrible rising trend on Instagram that can have serious consequences for the person being impersonated. Impersonator accounts can cause you to lose access to your account, serious reputational harm and they can even put your friend’s and families at risk.
Why does impersonating an Instagram account exist?
The impersonators use your account photos and captions to create a credible looking fake accounts. Creating a credible fake account is very lucrative for scammers, because they can have a much higher success rate when trying to do one of the following scams:
- Contact your followers, pretending that it’s you, and try to steal money or their Instagram account
- Try to take over your account by abusing Instagram’s “forgot my password” functionality
By using your photos, the scammers hope to catch your friends, followers and family off-guard. This makes their chances of success much higher than using a stranger’s account.
What are the risks if someone impersonates your account?
Have you ever gotten a text message with a login code or link out of the blue? It might have been an impersonator trying to take over your account!
Account impersonators can try to take over your account by submitting fake requests to Instagram pretending that they’re the real account owner.
One of the worst things about this danger is that it’s very hard to detect. These accounts could be running for months before you find out, usually by one of your friends or followers telling you about it.
Recently Instagram has been implementing features that help identify these imposter accounts. For example, if you get a follow request from one of these accounts, Instagram might show you a message that looks like this: “[the account requesting to follow you] has a similar username, profile picture or bio to one of your followers. Try to make sure the people that follow you are who they say they are before confirming”. Hopefully this helps prevent at least some impersonators!
So what can you do to protect yourself against impersonator accounts?
Prepare yourself before anything happens:
- Turn 2FA on and that your password is strong and unique! This will make it much harder for impersonators to use the “forgot password” to claim ownership of your account.
- Verify that your email and phone number are updated in your Instagram account and that you have access to them.
- Have recent posts with your face clearly shown in your feed. This helps Instagram’s automatic algorithms identify your when you submit claims with selfies to their customer support
If you find out somebody is impersonating you, take the following steps:
The best way to take down an account that’s impersonating you would be to report that account from as many accounts as possible. A good idea would be to ask your friends, followers, and community to do the same.
How to report an impersonator account on the Instagram app: :
- Go to the impersonator’s account in the Instagram app
- Click the three-dotted menu button on the top right
- Choose: report
- Choose: “something about this account”
- Choose: “They are pretending to be somebody else”
- Choose: “Me”
- Instagram will now receive your report and review it
Report the account in Instagram’s new security center:
- Go to this page and fill out the Report an Impersonation Account on Instagram form.
- Choose “Someone used my name, photos or information to create a new account”
- Choose the relevant options in the impersonation form: Are they impersonating you, your business or anything else
- Fill out the rest of the details, including uploading your photo with an ID. If you followed our advice, then you have recent posts with your face clearly visible in them - this will make the chance of success much higher!
Conclusion and main takeaways
Account impersonation is a rising trend on Instagram. It poses a huge risk because it’s hard to detect and it makes scamming your closest friends much easier.
If you do find out somebody is impersonating you, make sure you follow our tips to take down their account ASAP, go over our preparation guide to make sure you are ready for the worst case scenario, and to be as safe as possible - get covered by our Notch insurance for your Instagram profile.
Have you encountered an impersonator? Have an interesting story to tell? DM us at @getnotch on Instagram!