(WHNT) — There’s a lot of buzz lately about verified social media accounts, thanks to Twitter’s announcement of the $8-a-month program and Meta’s announcement of their $14.99-a-month program for a “verified account.” Social media has long been a favorite haunt of scammers. In light of those two facts, businesses and consumers should be alert to how the scammers will use this latest twist to benefit themselves.

BBB is monitoring reports to BBB Scam Tracker, and recently the BBB Institute for Marketplace Trust and Amazon (a BBB Accredited Business) partnered to educate consumers on impersonation scams.

In recent phishing scams, con artists have been going after businesses and individuals with verified accounts – a measure that was supposed to help prevent scams.

How the scam works

You receive a direct message or email that appears to come directly from Twitter, Instagram, or another social media platform. It states that your verified account has been flagged, and you must re-verify it. You could allegedly lose your verified account badge if you don’t respond. For example, some Twitter users have reported receiving direct messages or emails stating that their blue verified badge has been marked as spam and, if they don’t appeal the decision, it will be deleted.

The scam message asks you to click on a link or download a form to start the appeal process and re-verify your account. You may download malware onto your laptop or mobile device if you click. This can collect your personal data without your knowledge. If you fill out forms or reply with the requested information, scammers may be able to hack your account or use your personal information to commit identity theft.

How to avoid social media scams

  • Understand how social media platforms work. Get to know a social media platform’s policies before using it. For example, Twitter never sends emails requesting login credentials, nor do they send emails with attachments. If you are clear on the platform’s policies and procedures, you’ll be less likely to fall for correspondence from a scammer – even if it looks legit.
  • Be wary of unsolicited messages. Be skeptical about out-of-the-blue messages, whether it’s a DM, an email, or a message on a messaging app, especially if they ask you to click on links or open attachments. Instead, go straight to the source – the platform’s official customer service center – to determine if the message is real.

    Look for the signs of a scam. Poor spelling, bad grammar, pressure to act now, and scare tactics are all red flags that indicate a scam.

    Always protect your personal information. Never give a stranger your login credentials or other personal information without verifying their request’s legitimacy. Most reputable companies won’t ask you for your login information.

    Monitor your accounts. Make a point to monitor your social media accounts and do a search for your name or brand, making sure there are no impostors.

 For more information

If a scammer has contacted you, report your experience to BBB Scam Tracker to help other consumers recognize the con. Read more about spotting fake social media accounts.

Learn more ways to protect yourself by visiting BBB.org/AvoidScams.