Someone Asked To Add Their Email on My Instagram: Scam?

Here’s everything about scammers asking you to put someone’s email on your Instagram account: This is usually a phishing scam.

If someone can convince you to change your primary Instagram email address to something they control, then they can completely take over your Instagram account, and you won’t get it back.

Always verify that you have control over an email account before making this change. So if you want to learn all about scams that let you change your Instagram email, then this article is for you. Keep reading!

What Is Instagram?

Young woman in the beach on Instagram with her phone. She must beware if someone asks to add their email to her Instagram.

The fact that you’re even reading this suggests that you already use Instagram, but just to be perfectly clear about things, let me go over a few important details.

Instagram is a free-to-use social media platform. It’s designed around sharing photos and videos, but it is also possible to directly communicate with other users.

All of this matters because these are aspects of Instagram that tie in with the scam we’re discussing. In many cases, scammers will contact you directly on Instagram.

And, the reasons for the scam have a lot to do with how Instagram works. They might be after a number of different things, but through Instagram, they could use the scam to steal personal information, videos, and photos, access to your other contacts on the site, or even information that ties back to your financials.

How Does Instagram Use Email?

Pretty woman watching something online and looking interested

This particular scam hinges on email accounts, so let’s stop and talk about how your email address interacts with your Instagram account. When you sign up for Instagram, you have to provide an email address. That’s required, and there are no exceptions.

The email address that you provide is what Instagram uses to verify your identity and implement controls over your account. A classic example of how this works is a password reset.

If you forget your Instagram password, you can go to the site and initiate a password reset. In that process, Instagram will email you to verify that it really is you who initiated the request.

If you can’t access your email address, it will be very difficult to reset your password. If you can access your email address, then resetting the password is pretty easy. Account verification, in general, will run through your email.

Also: Why are there SPAM accounts on Instagram?

So, if there is ever a point where you need to prove to Instagram that you are really the person who owns the account, your email address is a crucial component in the process.

In case this isn’t perfectly clear, your Instagram email address is everything. With it, you control the account, and without it, you have no control over the account.

What Is the Instagram Email Scam? (2 Types)

Unknown hacker typing on a keyboard of a computer

There is a scam where someone will ask you to put another person’s email address on your Instagram account. Based on what you now know, the end result of this scam is pretty obvious.

Once you change the email address, the person who controls that address now has complete control over your account. It’s not fun. I’ll explain that scam in full detail in a bit, but I want to cover another possibility.

There’s a completely different scam where someone asks you to put an email address on your Instagram account.

In this case, they’re just trying to get you to post the email address rather than change your primary email that you use with Instagram. That’s a doxxing scam, and I’ll cover it too.

#1 Phishing

Anxious young girl looking at phone seeing bad news

In 9 out of 10 cases, you’re dealing with a phishing scam. For anyone unfamiliar with the term, phishing is when someone on the internet tries to trick you out of important information.

Often, they will claim to be working in an official capacity (I’ll take you through an example in a bit). They’ll try to get you to verify personal or account information.

In the case of this scam, they’ll want you to change your Instagram email to one they provide either to test the system or for security purposes.

The reason they claim doesn’t matter. It’s just an excuse to get you to change the email address.

Once you do change the email address, you’ve just given them control over your Instagram account.

Since the email address controls password resets and all of your security, you just handed them the keys to your account, and that was the point all along. They can do whatever they want with your account from that point forward.

How the Scam Works

This scam might make more sense with a clear example, so let’s go through one. You get an email, and it looks like it’s from Instagram.

The email says that there’s a problem with your account, and they need to work with you to fix the problem (usually the “problem” is vague and unspecified). They have an email you can reply to or a phone number you can call to fix the problem.

You call the number, and you’re connected to an Instagram technician (or at least, this is who they claim to be).

They walk you through some troubleshooting steps, and at one point in the process, they suggest that you change your email to their troubleshooting email so they can just fix the account for you.

You do that, and then the scam is complete. You’ve made the fatal error, and they just stole your Instagram account.

#2 Doxxing

Young woman sitting on a chair, holding a pencil and a smartphone, and seemingly upset

Let’s talk about the doxxing scam because it’s completely different. Doxxing is a term used to describe when a person’s private information is made publicly available against their will.

The doxxing scam we’re talking about today happens when someone on Instagram asks you to promote something.

They might even offer money for the promotion (which is money you will probably never see). The gist is that they give you an email address or other information to post on your account.

By doing that, you’re promoting their stuff, and you’re supposed to get some reward for it. In reality, the other person is scamming you.

They’re tricking you into posting information that shouldn’t be made public, and you are effectively doxxing someone you don’t even know, all because you fell for a scam.

How Do You Stop the Instagram Email Scams? (3 Ways)

Attractive girl lying on sofa and using tablet

Now that you know what the scam looks like, there’s a natural next question.

What can you do about it? The easy answer is to never change your Instagram email account, but there are times when it actually makes sense to change your email.

So, what should you do? I have three general pieces of advice that will protect you from this scam and many others. First, I’ll talk about when it’s ok to change your email.

Then, I’ll talk about how to change your email. Lastly, I’ll show you how to spot this and pretty much any other scam on the internet.

#1 Never Change Your Email

Blonde woman with glasses reading email on computer

Even though these scams come in a wide variety of attacks and tricks, they all rely on one key principle: your email address.

If you don’t change your email address, then you won’t fall victim to these scams. Of course, that comes with a separate challenge. What if Instagram is trying to tell you that your email address is compromised? Shouldn’t you change it then?

We’ll talk about how to verify that such a thing is really coming from Instagram in a bit, but before that, keep something in mind.

Even if your email address is compromised, Instagram would never suggest that you use someone else’s email account.

That’s the red flag that you can trust is always a scam. So, don’t change your email address unless you personally have a good reason to do it.

#2 Only Use an Email Address You Control

Emails on a laptop screen on a wooden desk, with the office as background

If and when you do change your email address, make sure it’s to an email address control.

Like I just said, you should never change it to someone else’s email address. As soon as you do that, you’ve lost to the scam and your account is compromised.

If you want to change your email address with Instagram for any reason, you need to make sure it’s one that you can access and control.

Whether it’s a brand new email address or one you’ve had for a while, make sure you can log into it, send and receive emails, and control it in a general sense.

Even if you aren’t being scammed, if you change your email account with Instagram and then can’t access the new email address, you’ll lose access to your Instagram account too.

You need the email verification to make things work on Instagram.

It’s very important.

So, don’t take an email address suggestion from anyone other than yourself, and test that you have complete access to the new email address before you set it up with Instagram (or any other social media).

#3 Be Coy

Woman with long hair calling a company for verification

Here’s your ultimate defense against pretty much all scams.

Be coy. If someone who actually works in an official capacity is contacting you, then they know who you are and about your account.

They have to in order to do their official job. They should be able to verify who they are and why they are contacting you. Let’s use an example.

Say someone contacts you claiming to be from the FBI. If that’s the case, they should already know your name and exactly why they are contacting you.

It won’t be vague. Additionally, they should be able to provide credentials that you can then verify with the FBI.

This holds true for any government agency or company.

If someone says they’re from Microsoft (and Microsoft is never going to personally contact you), then they should be able to prove it.

You can then contact Microsoft yourself and see if what they say checks out. In fact, that’s the key step.

You’re being coy so that you don’t accidentally give away sensitive information to a scammer, but you can check if something is a scam with a simple step.

Whoever they claim to be, contact that entity yourself. If they claim to be from Instagram, don’t reply to any email address or phone number that the person gives you.

Instead, contact Instagram directly and explain the situation. If there is a real issue, the person you contact can verify it.

If they can’t verify anything, then you know it’s a scam. This works no matter what. Do your own verification, and you’ll know when you’re dealing with a scam. Once you identify a scam, you can report it accordingly.


  • Theresa McDonough

    Tech entrepreneur and founder of Tech Medic, who has become a prominent advocate for the Right to Repair movement. She has testified before the US Federal Trade Commission and been featured on CBS Sunday Morning, helping influence change within the tech industry.

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