Tech Guides (IT Governance)

Recognizing and Reporting Fake Social Media Accounts

Updated Nov 05, 2021

Scammers often utilize social media by creating fake accounts pretending to be popular brands, organizations, celebrities, or even your own friends to try and convince you to give them personal information and data. They can use this information to steal your money, including credit or debit card numbers, bank account numbers, usernames and passwords, etc.

One common tactic that these accounts use is exploiting real giveaways. When a real account starts a giveaway, scammers will create fake accounts and seek out people who entered to try to get their personal information by telling them that they won.  

To identify fake accounts and avoid being scammed over social media, check the following criteria: 

  • Are you following the suspect account? If you know that you are following the real account who originally offered the giveaway, check to see if you are following the account that messaged you. If you're not following them, it's probably fake.

Here is an example of a real account that is being followed:

  • Who are the suspect account’s followers? Fake accounts can purchase followers to help their page look legitimate. Tap their follower number to inspect if anyone you know is their follower. 

Here is an example of a real account. If you select the number of followers it will open a page that shows all of the accounts that are following them.

  • Who is the account following? Fake accounts often follow many more accounts than they have following them.

This is an example of a real account. The account is following fewer accounts than the accounts that are following it.

  • Does the suspect account have any posts? If the account has no posts this tells you it’s fake. Be cautious though, fake accounts can copy the photos of the original account to make the fake page look like the original.

This is an example of a real account. It has 1,094 unique posts.

  • Is the suspect account verified? Many celebrity and brand accounts have the blue check mark next to their username signifying it as a verified account. 

This is an example of a real account. It has a blue check mark next to the account's name to show the account has been verified to prove that they are who they say they are.

If you suspect a fake account, please report it on the social media platform. Report any BYUI social media accounts that you suspect to be fake by emailing phishing@byui.edu.

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