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Fake social media accounts are created to promote phony products, impersonate people, spread scams, and share lies and misinformation. It’s important to spot these scam accounts right away, before you engage with their content.

In this Tech Tip, we will share a few telltale signs to help you spot a spam social media account. If you are more of a visual learner, watch our latest Tech Tip video to follow along with Tech Expert Katie.

Start With the Profile Picture

If the account doesn’t have a profile picture, or they have one but it doesn’t seem to match the content of their profile, it may be an imposter. Try using Google’s reverse image search feature to see if their photo was stolen from elsewhere on the Internet.

Cross-Reference With Your Existing Friends List

If you receive a friend request from someone you know you are already friends with, reach out to your friend before you accept. There’s a good chance they are being impersonated by a troll.

Look For a Verification Badge

One simple sign that an account is legit is a verification badge, which is a blue checkmark on most platforms. If an account says they are a celebrity or other high-profile user but they don’t have a verification badge next to their profile, you can be almost certain that they are a scam.

Browse the Account’s Content

 Scammers often fill their feeds with stock photos and memes, rather than original images. Accounts specifically designed to spread misinformation or sway political opinions frequently share one-sided and often extreme viewpoints.

Double Check the Follower Count

Account owners can buy followers, so a fake account may have thousands of followers, but little to no engagement on their posts.

Platforms like Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook all have their own options to report fake profiles. As a general rule, if you suspect that a social media account is fake, it’s best to trust your gut and report them. You could be protecting yourself, or someone else, from getting scammed.

That’s it for this edition of Tech Tips! Check back soon for another tip to make your technology work for you.