Whether it's a spammy bio or an eerily similar username to an account you already follow, there are tons of fake Instagram accounts popping up every day.
And while Instagram frequently removes bots and fake accounts, hundreds still slip through the cracks.
So, how can you tell which accounts are real and which are fake?
We're sharing five red flags to look out for when trying to identify a fake Instagram account — plus, how to block it when you do.
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5 Ways to Tell if an Instagram Account Is Fake
From scammers to bots, here are five ways to sniff out fake Instagram accounts:
Inconsistent (Or Copied) Bio
Random Comments on Posts
Offers Money or Promotes a Product/Service
Follows a Lot of Accounts
#1: Inconsistent (Or Copied) Bio
Fake Instagram accounts will often copy their bio from a real one — with a few changes and inconsistencies.
Pay attention to the characters in their username. There’s usually an extra letter, number, or symbol added to the bio — like this account that impersonated Mahdi Woodard:
In other cases, they may not have a bio at all:
Another telltale sign that an account is fake?
If the bio relies heavily on emojis, hashtags, or sounds like a machine wrote it.
#2: Spammy DMs
Fake Instagram accounts will often slide into your DMs pretending to be a reputable brand.
They'll send you a generic message, and will encourage you to either visit another website or DM someone else with your information:
These accounts typically offer sexual or explicit content, crypto schemes, cash sales, brand partnerships, or even retail scams in their bio:
TIP: When an account DMs you, look at its profile. Check how often the account is posting content (and if they reuse the same caption). A fake profile will often post all of its content at once — if it even has any.
#3: Random Comments on Posts
If an account frequently leaves comments unrelated to the content of your post (or random emojis), they're likely fake.
If you’re still unsure, peruse their profile and check the comments on their posts to see who’s engaging with the account.
Do the comments on their posts seem authentic? Are they selling or promoting something? Are they repetitive or using all caps?
TIP: Check for comments that promise easy ways to pay off debt, use different fonts, or ask you to DM them.
#4: Offers Money or Promotes a Product/Service
Fake Instagram accounts will often offer users the opportunity to make quick cash or win free products.
They'll lure you in to get your personal information and then potentially hack you:
NOTE: Sometimes, these accounts will pose as a reputable brand to gain your trust (especially if the brand is running a giveaway or contest). Double-check our tips before you engage with them.
#5: Follows a Lot of Accounts
A fake Instagram account needs followers to seem legitimate.
And most will use the outdated #FollowForFollow method in an attempt to get people to follow them back.
If you come across an account that has a small number of followers but a large following, it’s likely fake:
TIP: Compare the number of accounts they're following, the number of followers they have, and the number of posts they've posted.
How to Block a Fake Instagram Account
So, now that you’ve learned how to spot them, the question is how can you protect your account and block the fake ones?
Here are two main ways to block a fake account on Instagram:
Block and Report Them via Their Profile
Block and Report Them via DMs
#1: Block and Report Them via Their Profile
If a fake Instagram account has left a comment on your post, first click on their profile:
Then select the three dots in the top right corner of their profile, and tap "Block":
You'll then be prompted to either:
Block the account and other accounts they may have/create
Block the account
If you'd like to report them, this is also the best time to do so.
#2: Block and Report Them via DMs
When a fake account sends you a DM, it'll usually appear in the Requests tab in your Inbox.
Click on the message from the account, and you'll be prompted to either block, delete, or accept their request:
Similar to blocking them via their profile, tap "Block", and then "Block account":
You'll also be able to choose whether you'd like to block other accounts they may have/create, and report them.
Engaging with fake Instagram accounts can leave your content vulnerable to spam, coercion, and content theft.
But with these tips, you'll not only be able to spot them, but you can block them too!