If you're not a celebrity, it can be tough to build followers on Instagram. Many users beg outright in their comments, barter for followers by using one of many hashtags like follow4follow, and resort to trying to buy followers — a strategy that can lead to trouble.
Karla Agregado, a threat analyst at security software firm TrendMicro, this week alerted her readers to a new scam on Instagram, one that is more dangerous than those seen in the past.
"Unlike previous attacks, however, these sites require payment — with the amount depending on the number of followers you prefer," Agregado said in a blog post. "Despite the site's liberal use of the Instagram logo, it has nothing to do with the service."
The Instagram post directs users to a website that asks for user’s name, email address, telephone number and payment information.
Your first tip-off that the service may not be legitimate is that it's all in Russian and an English version is not available. Second, the "instant chat" popout is not really an online customer service mechanism. Type in your name and phone number and all you'll get is a message that says you will be contacted as soon as possible. (Translation thanks to Google.)
"In the end, however, not only does the user not get the promised followers, he has handed over his personal information to scammers," Agregado said. [Read more: How to Set Your Smartphone's Social Privacy Settings ]
It's still too soon to know how your personal information will be used, but if you've fallen for this one, you should check for unauthorized purchases to your bank account and consider canceling your card.
Watch for an increase in follower schemes now that Instagram has introduced video. Agregado warned users that all offers of added followers — whether it be free or paid — are likely scams that will steal the user’s information, money or both. A warning that applies to Twitter and Vine as well.