If you have a social media account, it will probably be spoofed at some point. It happened to me recently, so I share the steps I took to help you if/when it happens to you.
Late one Saturday afternoon, I received an Instagram message from a friend asking if I had a new Instagram account. She had a new follower that used my profile image and a username close to mine.
A couple of hours later, I received a text message from another friend telling me the same thing. I asked her for the username of the fake account.
I looked it up and sure enough, they had spoofed my Instagram account.
Spoofed or Hacked
Let me clarify what I mean by spoofed and hacked. A hacked account is when someone takes control of your account. They hack in, change the password and take control of your account. You have no way to log in.
A spoofed account is when someone creates a new account using a username very similar to yours and uses your profile image and maybe some of your images from posts. You can still access and use your account. Even though my account was spoofed, I changed my password to be safe.
When My Account Was Spoofed
I found the fake account and reported it to Instagram. Whoever created the account used my profile picture and added a couple of punctuation marks at the end of the username. They had followed about half of the people I follow on IG and had not created any posts. It was obvious the account was spoofing mine.
The next day I could not find the account and I have received no more messages from friends, so I believe it was taken down.
Then I created a post telling people already following me that someone had spoofed my account. I said I still used my original account and did not have any additional symbols, numbers, or punctuation marks in my username. I wanted them to know to ignore any requests from the spoofer in case they were still around.
Why Accounts Are Spoofed
My question is why my account? I’m not rich and famous, I don’t have a lot of followers (and many of my followers are people who know me in real life and know me well enough to question if I created a new account).
I had not posted in over a year, although I have commented and sent messages through Instagram. To someone looking at my account, it probably seems I wasn’t paying attention to it.
From some research I did, it seems these fake accounts are created, and as people begin following back the fake account, they are messaged. It eventually leads to them asking for money, because who wouldn’t try to help a friend in need?
This scheme obviously works enough to make it worth people’s time to continue doing it.
What To Do If Your Account Is Spoofed
If your social media account gets spoofed, here are the steps I suggest you take:
- reset your password, just in case
- find the username of the fake account and report it
- make a post on your account (and share in your stories as well) that you are still using that account and if anyone follows with a similar username it is fake
- encourage them to report the fake account
What Else To Do
If someone begins following you and you think “weren’t we already connected”, you probably were! Double check. Find the original account and message them to see if they have created a new account and let them know why you ask. If they have not created the account, report it.
If you do need to create a new account with a similar username, use a different (and recent) profile picture and make a post saying that you are now using this account.
I also suggest that you try to post at least once every month or two. It doesn’t have to be much, but it shows more recent activity on your account which may help deter people with nothing better to do than create fake accounts.
Watch the Video Version
Watch the Improve User Experience on Your Author Website workshop today. Available only to members of the newsletter list, you also gain access to the Resource Library for Authors containing checklists, spreadsheets, and other tools you can download. You email address will never be sold, and you can unsubscribe at any time.