Users on Twitter have been receiving messages purporting to be from “Twitter Support” urging them to act quickly to avoid suspension, often even from users with a blue check. But these are almost certainly scams — here’s what to look out for, and what it would look like if Twitter actually needed to contact you.

First, it should just be mentioned as a general rule that any message from anyone you don’t know on any platform you use should be viewed with suspicion. Do not follow any links or instructions, and if you’re at all unsure, take a screenshot and send to a friend for help!

On to today’s problem: DM spam.

This type of trick goes by various names depending on what the scammers are after. It might be garden variety phishing, and they’re trying to trick you into divulging personal or financial information. But it could be a more sophisticated, long-term plan to get access to high profile accounts.

The springboard method

It works like this: first you do a bit of spray-and-pray style messaging to get a few people to click through to one of many methods of getting their credentials, whether it’s social engineering (“Please verify your current password”) or a fake app (“Please update Tw1tter”) or some more serious device-level takeover. This nets the scammers control over a handful of real people’s accounts.

That message from ‘Twitter Support’ is almost certainly fake

Example of a scam DM from a hacked verified account.

Using these accounts, they spam DMs further, using the accounts’ legitimacy to mask their nefarious doings. This nets them more accounts, and if they’re lucky, they’ll springboard to higher profile ones, like a verified account the user follows who has their DMs open.

Once they have taken over a blue check account, they might change the name to something like “Urgent Support” and start sending out legitimate-looking warnings to the no doubt thousands of followers such a user will have.

Here’s how to spot a scam and protect yourself. One message a TechCrunch reporter received today from a verified account went as follows:

Twitter Support | Violation

Hello,

We’ve detected a lot of suspicious login attempts on your account lately.

We care about the security of verified accounts.

Your account will be suspended within 24-48 hours for security reasons. If you are not doing this, you must submit an appeal form to us so that your account is not suspended and we can review it.

[link to innocuous looking non-Twitter domain]

In any case, we will contact you again through this channel.

Thank you for your understanding,
Twitter Help Account.

A lot of people will see the verified account, a bit of boilerplate-looking warning text, and just hit the link. How should they know what a Twitter suspension warning looks like? They’re not internet sleuths, and frankly they shouldn’t have to be in order to keep their account safe, but this is the reality of social media today.

Fortunately it’s very easy to spot a scam, and you can protect yourself with the following steps.

How to spot a scammy DM

That message from ‘Twitter Support’ is almost certainly fake

Image Credits: MicrovOne / Getty Images

First, there are a couple red flags with the message itself.

Twitter will never contact you via DM for account issues. This type of communication is generally done via the email associated with the account. Think about it: if Twitter thinks a scammer might have taken over your account, are they doing to DM that account? Nope — they have a secure line to your email that only they know about. “If we contact you, we’ll never ask for your password & our emails will be sent from https://twitter.com/ / https://e.twitter.com only,” a Twitter rep said. If you do get a text, it will come from 40404. The sender is not Twitter. Again, Twitter wouldn’t use this channel to begin with, but the message doesn’t even come from them. If you looked at the person’s profile, you’d find they’re just some random person, or “egg” as we used to call them. The link goes somewhere you’ve never heard of. Of course it doesn’t have to go to scam-links.xxx to be suspicious! Links in any message, DM or email or even online can be and often are designed to be misleading. This link to twitter.com actually goes to Google, for instance. Only follow links in messages or emails you know are authentic — if you’re not sure, don’t do it! The language is kind of off. Not everyone will pick up on this, but on a close reading it’s clear this is probably not by a native English speaker — and a Twitter communication in English would surely be in clear, error-free language. It’ll be the same in other languages — if you notice something weird, even if you can’t be sure, that should set off alarm bells!

So what should you do if you get a message that looks scammy? The safest thing is to ignore and delete. If you want, you can report it to Twitter using the directions here.

Protect yourself with two-factor security

The single best thing you can do to protect against scams like this is to turn on two factor authentication., sometimes called 2FA or MFA (multi-factor authentication). We’ve got a whole guide for it here:

2FA will be in your Twitter security settings, and in the security settings for lots of your other online apps and services as well. What two-factor authentication does is simply check directly with you via a secure “authenticator” app that asks “are you trying to sign into Twitter?” If you see that message and you’re not signing into Twitter, something’s up!

When you do want to sign in, it will ask you for a number generated by the authenticator app that only you can see, or sometimes via text (though this method is being phased out). These numbers should only be entered at the login screen and never, ever told to anyone else.

If you have 2FA enabled, then even if you accidentally give some login info to a scammer, when they try to log in it will check with you to make sure. This is an incredibly helpful thing in today’s dangerous cybersecurity environment!

That’s all – now you and anyone you care to tell won’t get scammed on Twitter this way. If you want to further boost your cybersecurity prowess, check out our Cybersecurity 101 series.

NEWS RELATED

Kenyan agtech iProcure raises $10.2M to grow its input supply network

The shortage of agricultural inputs like fertilizer, unpredictable prices, and the proliferation of substandard products into markets are some of the biggest challenges for Kenya’s agricultural sector. This impact is especially felt in the country because agriculture accounts for 23% of its Gross Domestic Product (GDP), making it the ...

View more: Kenyan agtech iProcure raises $10.2M to grow its input supply network

Tesla doesn’t need to hit the panic button over China heat wave disruptions just yet

Some parts of China are suffering from record high temperatures in the past few weeks, prompting local governments to halt industrial power use, including those of battery plants. When news reaches the West, it generates fear-mongering headlines like “China heat wave shuts Tesla suppliers” which have likely rattled investors ...

View more: Tesla doesn’t need to hit the panic button over China heat wave disruptions just yet

Feast to famine: How agritech Dehaat went from record funding to layoffs

Feast to famine: How agritech Dehaat went from record funding to layoffs Aditya Narayan Giri joined agritech startup DeHaat’s Patna office on March 17, 2022. The company assigned Giri the responsibility of developing model farms in five states: Uttar Pradesh, Odisha, West Bengal, Jharkhand, and Bihar. Model farms are ...

View more: Feast to famine: How agritech Dehaat went from record funding to layoffs

Dodge unveils Charger EV concept that is faster and louder than a Hellcat

Dodge revealed Wednesday an EV concept that looks — and even sounds — like the gas-powered Charger muscle car that will be discontinued next year. The two-door Dodge Charger Daytona SRT Concept — the Daytona name a nod to its gas-powered ancestor’s 200 mph NASCAR track milestone — is not ...

View more: Dodge unveils Charger EV concept that is faster and louder than a Hellcat

With Ezetap in the bag, Razorpay CEO Harshil Mathur eyes top spot among omnichannel payment providers

With Ezetap in the bag, Razorpay CEO Harshil Mathur eyes top spot among omnichannel payment providers As lines blur between online payments and digital payments made for physical purchases, Razorpay is joining a host of other service providers that offer a single platform for businesses to accept online as ...

View more: With Ezetap in the bag, Razorpay CEO Harshil Mathur eyes top spot among omnichannel payment providers

Black Girls Code founder Kimberly Bryant has been fired by her board

Kimberly Bryant is officially out from Black Girls Code, eight months after being indefinitely suspended from the organization that she founded. In a statement provided to TechCrunch, a Black Girls Code spokesperson writes that it “believes the decision to remove Ms. Bryant as CEO and as a board member ...

View more: Black Girls Code founder Kimberly Bryant has been fired by her board

Crappy chargers and sky-high prices are huge roadblocks to EV adoption

In the U.S., most electric vehicle owners say that public chargers are easy to use. That is, when they actually work. A new JD Power survey finds that, while public charging stations are a tad easier to come by these days, faulty stations are souring the experience and hampering ...

View more: Crappy chargers and sky-high prices are huge roadblocks to EV adoption

Skyrora completes second stage static fire test of its flagship rocket

UK-based launch company Skyrora hit a new milestone in the development of its Skyrora XL rocket with the completion of a static fire test of the second stage. The single engine, designed and manufactured by Skyrora, completed a nominal 20 second burn, bringing the company one step closer to its ...

View more: Skyrora completes second stage static fire test of its flagship rocket

How Amazon’s continued expansion into healthcare could buoy the sector

Do we really need a $340, Wi-Fi enabled toaster?

Netflix’s ad-supported plan may block offline viewing, code suggests

Daily Crunch: Google will unplug its IoT Core service in August 2023

Growing and acquiring with Benchling and Benchmark on TechCrunch Live

Motion capture becomes more accessible as Rokoko raises at $80M valuation

Funding Circle co-founder unveils new Super Payments fintech venture with $27M investment

There’s a reason why US Midwest startups had fewer layoffs, Chicago VC says

Amazon is internally testing a TikTok-like feed in its app

A new TikTok feature lets creators share TikTok Stories to Facebook and Instagram

Polygon’s head of investments remains ‘highly bullish on web3’

Sinclair says its streaming sports service, Bally Sports+, will arrive next month

OTHER NEWS