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Just as brands need to watch out for illegitimate or dishonest influencers when choosing their partners for campaigns, creators must do their due diligence, too, to avoid influencer scams.

Because influencers often make their living from their reputation, it’s essential that they educate themselves about counterfeit products, fake brands and schemes that may be making their way around social media. 

Avoiding influencer scams

Use these tips to help you avoid influencer scams and prevent damage to your credibility, which will affect your bottom line.

Brands not offering compensation

Influencers provide a product (content) and service (promotion) for which they expect to be compensated. While some new influencers may be willing to partner with a brand in exchange for free products and “exposure,” most experienced influencers expect to be compensated. 

Some brands also offer commission rather than a set payment. You’ll need to decide if it’s worth your while to accept such an arrangement. 

One clear red flag from a brand’s pitch is a requirement for the influencer to buy a product to test, review or showcase. One particular scam made its way around Instagram, leaving influencers out $50 when the brand “ghosted” them after they completed their purchases. 

The same is true for postage and customs fees. Getting a free product but requiring the influencer to pay for international shipping is how fake criminals acquire your credit card or bank information. Legitimate brands will never ask you to spend money to work with them. 

Tips to avoid getting scammed

If you’re debating whether to accept only free products or commission, consider these tips:

  1. Ask for referrals from other influencers with whom the brand has partnered. Reach out to multiple influencers on the list to decrease the chances of fraud. 
  2. Report any emails or direct messages from the brand asking you to make a purchase or pay for shipping to partner with it. 
  3. Never share your credit card or debit card information with a brand upfront. Some influencers will eventually share their bank information to accept payment, but consider using an alternative payment source (e.g., PayPal) until you’ve established a good relationship with the brand. 
  4. Sign up for an influencer platform, like IZEA’s, to ensure you are compensated for your work on a collab.

Counterfeit products and fake brands

With some experts estimating that as many as 10% of all branded goods sold may be counterfeit, it pays to do your homework when researching brands that approach you for partnerships. 

It’s not always easy; scammers are taking extra steps to look legit. The trade-in fake products is estimated to top $600 billion a year, making it worth criminals’ time to invest in details to make their businesses look legal and authentic. 

Tips to spot fake brands

So how can influencers spot a fake brand? Here are some tell-tale signs to watch for:

  1. The brand that approached you isn’t following you on social media — or engaged with you in any way.
  2. It’s difficult to find any information about the brand online.
  3. Communication doesn’t come from the official brand.
  4. The person who made contact doesn’t provide any credentials.
  5. Upon asking for details, the brand doesn’t seem forthcoming.
  6. The brand has no references from previous influencer campaigns.
  7. Communication from the brand lacks a professional tone. There may be excessive use of emojis or immature language.
  8. Upon further research, the brand has many followers but few likes or comments. 
  9. The brand has very few photos and no images tagged with previous influencers.
  10. The brand’s email contains spelling or grammatical errors.

Hackers looking to infiltrate your accounts

Most influencers are savvy enough to know not to click on links in email or direct messages, but sometimes the opportunity to work with a big brand is just too tempting to follow best practices.

Tips to avoid being hacked

Prevention is the key when it comes to protecting your social media accounts. Consider these actions to avoid being hacked by criminals posing as brands:

  1. Never click on a link from a potential brand you’ve never worked with.
  2. Change your passwords frequently for all social media accounts.
  3. Add two-step verification for logging into all social media accounts.
  4. Check the sender’s email to confirm that it’s coming directly from the brand or corporation’s email.
  5. Hover over the URL to determine its real source.

While influencers are eager to work with brands, it’s important to be mindful of scams. Some influencers and brands prefer collaborating through influencer marketing software to reduce risk. Influencer marketing software provides assistance with every stage of a campaign. When it comes to finding brands, communicating with contacts, boosting posts, and measuring a campaign’s success, IZEA can help. 


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