So, this morning, a friend of mine contacted me on Instagram and asked if my account got spoofed. He sent me an image of my Instagram account… except it wasn’t! At first glance, it looked like me … my profile picture, my name, even the last five images I’d posted. The only slight difference (which is basically unnoticeable unless you looked hard) is that they added an underscore after my Instagram handle (so they used @nicolefictionaddiction_).
IF YOU GET A FOLLOW FROM THIS PERSON (with the underscore after the name), PLEASE DON’T FOLLOW BACK!
My first reaction was shock—what was this person doing impersonating me? And then worry … wait, what was this person doing while impersonating me? I mean, they couldn’t have had good intentions, right?
Thankfully, my friend had noticed right away and let me know (thanks Malcolm!) and only 14 people had followed at that point. It looks like the impersonator just started following my followers, hoping people would blindly follow them back. It looked like me, so it’s not that surprising that some people followed back without really thinking about it all that much.
- Reported the user as spam. (That was the only option I saw under the little reporting ellipsis that seemed to make sense).
- Reported the impersonation. After doing a little searching, I discovered that there is a form to fill out to inform Instagram if someone is impersonating you. I had to give the impersonator’s handle and send Instagram a picture of me holding a form of ID (I used my driver’s license and covered the driver’s license number with my finger for good measure). Hopefully they’ll shut the account down soon.
- Contacted the impersonator’s followers. First I contacted Marie @ Drizzle and Hurricane Books because she was the first follower that I recognized as a fellow blogger that I talk to outside of Instagram. She let me know that she’d gotten some strange messages from this impersonator, so I made the decision to go ahead and warn the other 13 followers as well (like I said, luckily there weren’t that many!).
- Several of them let me know that they reported the impersonator as well. (Thanks!!)
- Nicole @yaaas_or_nahs_books sent me a screenshot of the weird messages she’d received so I could see for myself. (Thanks, Nicole!) We’re guessing a request for her bank account info or something was coming soon.
The message is particularly sneaky because the underscore isn’t even showing on the screen! Even someone who knew I don’t have an underscore after my account name and was paying really good attention would think this was me. (And let’s face it, the number of people who would fit these criteria is pretty small—I doubt I’d be one of them.)
Anyway, I just thought I’d let people know this happened to me because it’s not something I ever really worried about. I also thought it would be good to let people know what steps you can take if this happens to you.
Hopefully this account will be deleted and there won’t be any issues, but I hate the idea of people out there using my face to scam people!!
Have you ever been spoofed on one of your social media accounts? Did it cause you any problems? I want to know!
I linked this post up to the 2020 Book Blog Discussion Challenge.