You spend hours and years creating content for your audience…only to find out that someone has copied all of your posts and created a copycat account on Instagram. Typically the scammers will try to sell a course that they stole from you or try a bitcoin or investment scheme to get money from your audience.
HOW TO REPORT A COPYCAT ACCOUNT ON INSTAGRAM
There’s a sinking feeling when your account gets stolen. There’s no perfect solution, but here’s a few options on how to handle.
File a report directly to Instagram
Whenever you detect that someone has copied your work, you should immediate look to that platform and ask them to remove the content. With Instagram (or any major platform), they have an interest in providing quality and honest accounts. They typically allow a complaint process.
In other words, your first step would be to file a report that someone is impersonating you or your business. Instagram has a very easy process for doing this.
File a Trademark Report On Instagram
Instagram is not a judge or a courtroom so many of its policies are careful to explain what they can and can’t do. Oftentimes, they will explain that they can do nothing. But that’s not always the case. If you have a trademark that has been registered, you should have an excellent chance of getting Instagram to remove an impersonator. This is why getting a trademark is as important as ever.
File Trademark Report here.
Think about how hard it is for Instagram to police all the brands and accounts. You need to make it easy for them to side with your account. You can do this by proving you are the owner of the rights. Do this by filing a trademark. If you don’t have a trademark, you can use a trademark attorney like the ones at Henderson & Henderson.
Learn more about trademarks and copyrights in this blog or this video.
Send a Cease and Desist Letter
You can always hire a lawyer to send a cease and desist letter. This will be required if there’s a legitimate dispute between you and another legitimate account (meaning someone that isn’t a complete scammer and copying your previous posts but that you think is infringing on your rights – this is where Instagram will not be helpful).
HOW TO PROTECT YOUR INSTAGRAM ACCOUNT
The above discusses what to do if someone copies your account. But Instagram also offers many preventative options that we highly recommend.
The first step individuals should take when creating their account is setting up two-step verification. Two-step verification is a more recent implementation by social media platforms that allows individuals to provide two verification locations to ensure that the user attempting to sign into their accounts is actually them. Most individuals using two-step verification provide Instagram with their phone number and email address. When attempting to sign in, individuals may elect to have Instagram send them a verification code via text message, a phone call, or an email. Once a user receives this verification code through one of these means, they will type the code into Instagram when it prompts the user to type in the code. This will notify Instagram that the user attempting to sign in is exactly who created the account. This step alone will prevent many users accounts from being hacked into and having someone they do not intend having access to their social media page.
Block Suspicious Accounts
Another feature that is available to users is the ability to Block Suspicious Accounts. Whether you are listed as a private account or a public account, the ability to block suspicious accounts is available to anyone. Most of the time, suspicious accounts are easily distinguishable from real accounts. There are a number of things to look for to ensure that an account that is following you is legitimate. The first step that users should look for to determine whether an account is suspicious or not is the accounts username. Many times, legitimate accounts will use their name as their username, their name with some numbers, or an abbreviation of their name. Spam accounts will often times utilize an outlandish username that will be easily distinguishable from a real account.
The second step users should be on the lookout for is whether their account is attempting to promote individuals to click on a link in their bio when they are not listed as a business or a verified account. Suspicious accounts that are not verified that prompt individuals to click a link in their bio are more often than not a fake account attempting to gain access to your personal information or subject individuals to malware when the link is clicked on to gain access to your account.
In either of these situations, when these types of accounts attempt to follow your page, the best option is to click the options tab on their page and block the user. This will prevent these individuals from having any sort of access to your page and they will no longer be visible by you on that social media platform.
Report Suspicious Accounts
Instagram allows users to Report Suspicious Accounts if users come across an account that does not seem legitimate. If a user ever comes across a page that has all of the signs of an illegitimate account, go to their page, click the options tab, and click “report user.” Instagram will then prompt you with a number of options to describe why you are reporting the account or you will be able to type a custom message describing why you are reporting the account. By doing this, Instagram will get an alert that the account was reported with your reasoning for doing so. Instagram will then open an investigation into the account and determine whether or not the account is legitimate or not. If the account is determined to be illegitimate, Instagram will ban the user and have the account deleted immediately. This will prevent the account from having access to the social media platform as a whole.
Alert your Followers of the Suspicious Account
If a user suspects that another account is impersonating themselves, their business, or stealing their content, there are some additional steps that can be beneficial to prevent this type of conduct. Instagram’s platform allows users to make posts that are permanent unless they are deleted at a later time or create a story that is visible by the accounts followers for twenty-four hours. If there is a suspicious account that is impersonating you, your business, or is stealing your content for their own benefit, alert your following of the suspicious activity. By making a post or a story with a screenshot of the suspicious account with a caption stating, “this is not a legitimate account, please report to alert Instagram,” many of your followers will view the post or story and understand that this is not your account. This will also increase the number of individuals who are reporting the account, increasing the chances that Instagram will ban the user. It will also prevent legitimate followers from accepting a follow request or getting hacked by an account impersonating your account.
Verify your Account with Instagram
Users who have a large social media presence or are a business can go through a verification process with Instagram in order to have their page listed as a blog, a business, or if you have a large enough following, a blue check mark listed next to your name to show that you are a legitimate account. The verification process is quick and simple. Simply go to your page, click the option tab, and click “Request Verification.” Instagram will then have you fill out a verification application, what your account is for, and why you are requesting verification. Once Instagram receives your accounts verification, they will either provide your account with a business label, a blog label, or provide your account with a blue check mark indicating that you have been verified.
A verified badge is a check that appears next to an Instagram account’s name in search and on the profile. It means Instagram has confirmed that an account is the authentic presence of the public figure, celebrity or brand it represents. The verified badge is a tool to help people find the real accounts of public figures and brands, and it means we verified this is a notable and authentic Instagram account. Users of the platform will then be able to visually see that you have been verified. Users or followers of your page will easily be able to determine that any accounts that are attempting to impersonate you or utilize your content are fake because they are not your verified account.