Instagram, is without a doubt, one of the best mainstream social media platforms today. Unfortunately, it is also home to thousands of scammers and impersonators whose aim is to trick and steal people’s privacy, money, and identity for their personal gain by pretending to be someone else.
There are also many cases where actual brands on Instagram are being impersonated to sell counterfeit products, raise funds through donations, and the like.
In this post, we’ll discuss how to avoid such scams and report those cybercriminals (or people who are unwittingly doing something rather annoying) to stop them from taking advantage of innocent unsuspecting people online.
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How to identify an impersonator
First things first, you need to confirm that the account you are suspecting of imitating someone is in fact an impersonation. You can do so by comparing posts and pictures on their account.
If you see obvious similarities such as recycled pictures and copied posts, it’s more likely an impersonator’s account. And lastly, there’s nothing more concrete evidence than confirming your suspicion with the person that’s being impersonated herself/himself.
If you’re worried about yourself being impersonated, the easiest way to check is to do a quick Google search of your name plus the word “Instagram”. You should be able to see the results of existing accounts under your name and figure out which ones are trying to mimic you.
You can also do this on Instagram’s search bar; accounts with the same name as yours should pop up unless they’ve blocked you.
Here’s a summary of things that I would check:
- Check the bio to see if they claim that they are official, or if it’s a satirical page, fan page, etc.
- Check if the posts are copied directly from the original source – this is easier if you know the person’s original Instagram account.
- If it’s you, a normal user, and someone is using your photos under a different name, then that is definitely something to be serious about
- If it’s someone you know and they are using a different name, most likely it’s an impersonator.
- This will sound funny but it’s common for women to be impersonated online, and scammers do this to catfish guys on dating platforms.
You can report an impersonator on Instagram
Reporting an account is easy on Instagram. The steps are a little bit different for mobile and desktop, so I’ll show you both.
For desktop users
- Look up the name or account that you want to report on the Instagram search bar.
- Click the profile, and you’ll see three little dots on the far right side after their name and arrow down sign.
- Click on those dots and it’ll give you three options.
- Simply select Report User, and it’ll ask you the reason why you want to report it. Just choose “It’s pretending to be someone else” and then it will ask for additional information like, who it is trying to impersonate.
- After submitting a report, Instagram’s support team will look into it, and keep in mind that there’s no specified turn-around time for your report. So the sooner you do it, the better.
For mobile users
- First tap on the search bar and look for the impersonator’s profile:
- Once you’re in their profile, tap on the three dots (kebab menu) and a menu will pop up. Select Report.
- Once you choose Report, a window will slide up asking what’s the report all about. Choose the middle option:
- After which, you can choose if you are the one being impersonated or someone else you know. Just choose which applies and submit the report.
I want to report someone but I don’t have an Instagram account…
You don’t need an Instagram account to submit a report, and even if you’re blocked by the account you’re trying to report, you can still report them using this form. Instagram will then ask for your selfie and government ID for identification.
For reports submitted through the app, the support team will contact you via the email that you’ve provided.
Although it’s not confirmed, the more people there are who report an account, the better chances of it being taken care of faster. So once you verify that it’s indeed an impersonator’s account, employ the help of your family and friends.
Reported – What next?
After you submit the report, the time it takes for the Instagram support team to respond would depend, there’s no fixed timeline for it.
While waiting, it is best to inform and spread awareness to your friends and family, including the impersonator’s target audience. If the person being impersonated is someone else, it’s best to reach out to that person to inform them as well.
Moving forward, to avoid or at least limit the chances of such incidents from occurring, be cautious about what you post on social media because everything you put out there can be copied or stolen by anyone.
They then can be used to do illegal activities like tricking people. It might end up affecting your name and image as well, tarnishing your reputation.
Prevention is always better than cure, so always be vigilant!