INDIANAPOLIS – If you’re on TikTok, you’re living in a scammer’s paradise.

That’s an according to a review by All About Cookies, which points out that TikTok has skyrocketed to more than a billion users since it arrived in 2017.  About a third of its users are age 18 to 24, but many of the most common scams are geared toward people closer to 14 years old.

Since the best way to avoid scams is to know what they look like, here are the top 5 TikTok scams users should be aware of.

  • 1 – Easy money offers and fake giveaways.  Most people understand that nobody is going to give away free money for liking, following or sharing an account.  But TikTok scammers will often try to hook young people by making it seem like a famous person is the one giving away the money even though there’s aren’t any celebrities involved at all.
  • 2 – Fake celebrity accounts.  These are all about gaining followers and will often claim to give away donations to charity, while convincing people to invest in cryptocurrency.
  • 3 – Romance scams.  These are big on any social media platform, and TikTok is no different.  Beware of people who are quick to profess their love before starting to ask for money and gifts.
  • 4 – Phishing scams.  These schemes on TikTok are often aimed at making users think they can grow their own presence on the platform.  An email in your inbox may offer to verify a badge, give you more followers, or sponsor you in some way.  These often involve so-called “bot” accounts, which are automated accounts that seem like a real person.
  • 5 – Bogus products and services.  These have increased greatly since the arrival of TikTok shop, which gives ways to sell items at reduced price.  Problems arise when the actual product is often not what is advertised and may not exist at all.  Then you make the purchase, the seller is suddenly gone along with your money.

All About Cookies points out that there were more than 21,000,000 fake TikTok accounts removed from the platform in just the first quarter of 2022.  Experts say you really need to be wary of anyone who’s really excited to offer you something for virtually nothing.

A fake account will often have subtle clues like minor misspellings, or extra characters in a web address.  Before you click on a link from a seller, check out their website and other social media channels.  You can also search for the products outside TikTok to make sure they really exist.  If there’s a brand name involved, go directly to that website to see if you can find the same deal.  You can also keep your account private so fewer users can see it and only friends can send you messages.

If you do get scammed, you should definitely report it to TikTok and change your password right away.