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Are you one of the 428 million users who logs into Snapchat to keep up with your social network? With private photo sharing, video messaging, live video chatting, and story sharing, the social media app is a popular choice when it comes to communicating with friends and family. Statista found that Snapchat has gained widespread popularity, and it even outranks Pinterest and Twitter in audience size.
Although Snapchat seems pretty straightforward for sharing messages and photos, is it a safe social media platform? We investigated the platform’s security and privacy details along with the biggest Snapchat scams to watch out for in 2023. We'll show you how to block people on Snapchat and which of the best identity theft protection services can help you recover your personal data if a Snapchat scammer takes advantage of you.
Is Snapchat safe?
What to do if you’re scammed on Snapchat
Tips to stay safe on Snapchat
Snapchat scams FAQ
8 most common Snapchat scams
We have highlighted eight common Snapchat scams and how each scam works so that you can learn how cybercriminals are attempting to obtain your information.
1. Fake celebrity impersonation scam
Scammers often make fake accounts and pose as celebrities on Snapchat to directly message you, asking you to send money for a charity or for some other reason. The “celebrity” could also send a link to a spoofed website that can fraudulently obtain your payment details.
It would be a rare case that a celebrity would directly reach out to you. A wise personal policy would be to never send money to anyone because of something you saw on Snapchat. If you are interested in a specific charity or cause, do some thorough research online and donate directly through a verified link on a legitimate website.
2. Fake contest scam
Upon first hearing you have won a contest, you may feel elated, and that is what scammers count on! Slow down because it could be too good to be true, especially if you’re informed through a social media platform like Snapchat. In this type of scam, cybercriminals may pretend to be from a legitimate organization and ask for your personal details to award a prize to you.
It’s a red flag if you’re asked to pay money or to give your bank account number or credit card information to claim a prize. It could be helpful to part ways with the individual contacting you, look up the organization on the internet, and double-check with its verified customer service team before interacting further.
3. Fake survey scam
There are reputable companies that conduct surveys and additionally offer compensation prizes for the completion of their surveys. Snapchat, in the course of its business model, may choose to eventually send a survey to you, but beware, scammers may mimic these “company surveys” to attempt to scam your personally identifiable information from you.
It’s also good to note that, while Snapchat may also choose to never send surveys to you directly, if you have ever shared your email address with anyone on the platform, that email could be bought and sold on the dark web. Additionally, if the platform’s cloud gets hacked and exposes their client’s email address list to hackers, you could fall prey to this type of scam.
Regardless of how it originates, the hackers' main goal in the fake survey scam is to get you to click on fake website links or call a phone number where they will obtain your credit card number for the aforementioned prize. Make sure to double-check email addresses before you click on any links, as emails are a prime method for phishing scams that lead you to fake websites that could install malware on your device. A reputable company conducting a survey will never ask you for sensitive information, such as your social security number or bank account specifics.
4. Bogus investment opportunities
Cybercriminals love to use social media apps like Snapchat for investment scams The FTC reported that half of the investment scam losses reported in 2021 originated on social media.
Many cryptocurrencies and the blockchains they are tied to are legitimate. But more fraudsters are using cryptocurrencies that offer no real returns to steal your money. With this scam, a social media developer or influencer may contact you directly, telling you about a cryptocurrency investment and offering a blockchain address of a particular scam token. Once you make a purchase, you may never hear about the token online again. Or, in a more extreme case, the developer and project may disappear entirely from the web with your money.
It’s good to remember that all reputable investments will have an ample amount of information online, including potential studies and whitepapers backing the project’s main ideas. For cryptocurrencies, you can take a few extra steps to evaluate projects, such as reviewing the organization’s website and the project’s tokenomics.
5. Fake product scam
While social media sites like Snapchat are great for showcasing new products to consumers, there can also be product scams mixed in with the ads. In 2021, 45% of money lost in social media scams was due to online shopping, primarily where the product was paid for yet never delivered.
If you’re targeted by this scam, you may be redirected to a fake website to enter your credit card details. To prevent this from happening, try to opt out of targeted advertising, do ample research on the company before purchasing, and be wary of any vendor that accepts only a gift card or cryptocurrencies for payments.
6. Unlocking account scam
Many people panic when they feel they have lost their password or that there is unsuspected activity on their account, and these feelings can make you susceptible to account unlocking scams. Not only may a scammer compromise your account, but they may also pretend to be a Snapchat employee who is trying to help you. The red flags to watch out for in this type of scam are:
Contacting you to unlock your account
If someone initiates contact to help you unlock your account, don't respond. You should be the one contacting Snapchat Support, and rarely would Snapchat Support reach out to you unless they are responding to your initial request. (And even Snapchat Support won’t ask you for your login information.)
Asking you to pay to unlock your account
Some scammers ask you to pay to unlock your account or to retrieve your last remembered password. Professional social media services do not need payment from you to help you change your Snapchat password, nor do they ever require you to remember your first password. Conversely, a scammer would love to have your payment details and password information!
If your Snapchat account was compromised or you simply forgot your password, Snapchat help is just a few clicks away to assist you.
Antivirus can protect you from phishing scams
According to AV-Comparatives latest analysis, these three antivirus solutions are best at protecting you from Snapchat phishing scams:
- Avast: If antivirus is outside your budget, Avast's free plan is probably the next best thing. While other companies don't give you a lot with free plans, Avast's is packed with security features like real-time malware protection and unsafe site alerts.
See Avast Plans | Read Our Avast Review
- Bitdefender: One of our favorite antivirus programs, Bitdefender offers a wide range of plans at a variety of prices. Whatever plan you pick, you get ransomware, anti-phishing, and unsafe website protection. It also comes with parental controls that help you keep tabs on your child's online activities.
See Bitdefender Plans | Read Our Bitdefender Review
- McAfee: If you'd like to bundle multiple tools into one security suite, McAfee's the way to go. The McAfee+ plans include a firewall, web protection, identity monitoring, and a password manager. If you want to fully protect your digital life, McAfee+ Advanced also includes credit monitoring, lost wallet protection, and identity restoration services.
See McAfee Plans | Read Our McAfee Review
7. Snapchat premium scams
Do you ever encounter Snapchat accounts that have non-family-friendly photos? There are accounts that are suggestive in nature, promising adult content if you upgrade your account to “Snapchat premium.”
There’s no premium version of Snapchat to begin with, so you do not need to pay anyone to upgrade your account. Without encountering an official website that accepts payments, you can almost guarantee that your money will go missing, regardless of the nature of the material involved.
8. Romance scams
Not least of all, we have all heard of the tried-and-true romance scams that occur on social media. Romance scams, also known as catfish scams, are subtle and often start with someone befriending you online. The next thing you know, you have so much in common with your new friend, or even a romantic connection, so you don’t feel cautious before sending them money.
If this has happened to you, you are in good company, as this was the second most common financial scam on social media in just 2021 alone. One way to avoid this type of scam is to not date someone you met on social media, including Snapchat. And never send anyone you don’t know money online, no matter how you feel about them!
Is Snapchat safe?
You can use any social media platform safely, if you have a bit of awareness.Snapchat’s most unique feature is tied in with its servers — the platform deletes your photos that you send to others after a specified amount of time. At first glance, this feature may make you feel like there is less risk involved, but there are hazards associated with photo sharing in this unusual manner!
You could be more likely to encounter cyberbullying on Snapchat because it’s harder to hold toxic individuals accountable for their online actions when their photos and messages disappear. Another risk is a false sense of security.
It’s easier to share images or personally identifiable data that you may later come to regret if you think they can’t be shared or viewed by others. Although Snapchat will alert you if someone takes a screenshot of your photo within the app, people have found ways around that feature to take screenshots without your permission.
Aside from general photo sharing, you may have other safety concerns, such as location sharing or third-party internet tracking. Snapchat Support has taken the initiative to build out an online help center with various articles on how to keep your account up-to-date and secure, and we have summarized some of this information for you.
With more than one in four individuals reporting to the FTC that they have lost money to social media scams, you have good reason to take precautions now to avoid Snapchat scammers in the future.
What to do if you’re scammed on Snapchat
If you believe your Snapchat account was compromised and that someone may be attempting to access your information, you can submit a support ticket with Snapchat. Make sure that you provide Snapchat with a safe email you still have access to, and remember, never provide your password to anyone, including Snapchat Support.
Once you have your account restored, make sure to set up two-factor authentication to further enhance your security.
After reporting any cybercriminals within the Snapchat app, make sure to also report them to the Federal Trade Commission, a government agency where you can report fraud and identity theft. The agency also provides many practical tips for dealing with online scams, and they include helpful next steps for multiple fraud scenarios.
10 tips to stay safe on Snapchat
While we have listed many warning signs when it comes to Snapchat scams within this article, here are two additional and helpful warning tips for online safety:
- Think twice if someone's overly eager to chat. If someone is consistently more excited than you are to chat — and they are trying to persuade you to do something like click on a website or send funds — it’s most likely a scam.
- Trust your gut and don't be afraid to block. Always trust your gut instincts and block suspicious individuals immediately.
- Keep your password a secret. Never share your Snapchat login and password with anyone, not even support. Choose a strong password and use a password manager to securely store it.
- Install and update antivirus software. Some scammers aim to infect your device with spyware or keyloggers, while others try to scam you out of your personal info with a phishing attack. The best antivirus software can help protect you against these types of attacks whether they happen on Snapchat or elsewhere.
- Add extra layers of account security. Set up two-factor authentication to make it harder for hackers to access your account.
- Don't talk to strangers. Be cautious when chatting with and accepting friend requests from people you don’t know.
- Hide your location. Make sure that only the people you choose can see your location by customizing your location on the map, or use Ghost Mode to protect your location.
- Share with friends and family only. Review your privacy settings regularly and make sure you manage who can view your stories, and never share any photos or videos that you would not share publicly.
- See something suspicious? Report it. Report any abuse or scams to Snapchat immediately.
- Protect your personal info. Identity theft protection services help you lock down your personal data, including bank account info and Social Security numbers. Having this type of protection in place before a scam happens means you have immediate access to expert help and tools.
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Snapchat scams FAQ
How do I spot fake Snapchat accounts?
Snapchat keeps Snapscores on each account, calculated with the number of completed snaps, stories, and more.
Snapchat users with a higher Snapscore are more likely to be real accounts. Moreover, a real account will have an authentic photo versus a stock photo, a unique username, recent activity, a verification mark, or mutual friends. Looking for these items on any new account that contacts you is another great way to spot a hacked account that’s looking for potential victims to scam.
How do I report Snapchat scams?
If you believe your account has been compromised or that someone is attempting to scam you, you can contact Snapchat Support to report the incident.
Are Snapchat texts secure?
It depends on how you define secure. The premise of Snapchat is to delete your messages, or “Snaps,” after a specified amount of time. There is no automatic record kept of what was posted unless you choose to save a Snap before you send it.
Keep in mind that the user on the other end can also take a screenshot via Snapchat itself or by other means like a separate phone camera.
Additionally, Snapchat offers end-to-end encryption for photos and videos so that only you and the person sending you the message can view the content. Moreover, this encryption prevents Snapchat from storing your data on its servers, making your conversations more private.
Should I let my kids use Snapchat?
Snapchat is safe for young people, ranging from teens to young adults. Snapchat’s Family Center and parents' guide both have plenty of information on how the app interacts with kids. Be sure to adjust your child’s story and map content in their privacy settings before they get started using Snapchat.
The biggest Snapchat scams mirror other social media scams. The common thread is that there is a fraudster on the other side of your screen who is attempting to obtain your financial details by any means necessary.
As social media technologies have created advantageous uses and have given us more exposure to people throughout the world, the types of scams have also grown more complex. It is best to take some time once per year and read up on the latest scams within your favorite applications to stay safe and update your privacy settings — especially on social media. Additionally, we advise using the best antivirus programs to further secure your devices and reputable identity theft protection services for an added layer of protection.