The TikTok scams you need to watch out for

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Carolanne Bamford-Beattie


Teach kids to recognise TikTok scams

How can you tell if someone is real on TikTok?

It’s one of the world’s favorite social media platforms with over 1 billion monthly users and a third of them (32.5%) are aged 10-19. Highly intuitive to your interests and internet behaviors, it serves a consistent feed of content that is designed to appeal directly to you through your ‘For You’ page. TikTok has rocketed in popularity over the past three years, and it shows no signs of slowing down, taking over the likes of Facebook and Instagram in the league of favorites by young people. 

If your teen is using the app (and it’s likely they are) then you need to be aware of some of the tiktok scammer behavior that is happening on the platform. Many TikTok scams are becoming increasingly sophisticated, so it’s more important now than ever to educate your kids on the things they should be avoiding, and what to do if they fall victim to a TikTok fake.

What TikTok scams should I look out for?

Just like other online scams, the ways that these fake TikTokers gain trust and access to your personal information and finances is varied. Here we’ve listed out the most common types of TikTok scam you need to watch out for. 

Fake money and ‘easy win’ scams

With the sheer amount of content being pumped out on platforms like TikTok, it’s easy for sneaky scammers to pump out their fake content. One of the most common TikTok fakes are easy money scams where they pretend there’s a contest happening to give away lots of cash or gift cards.

If something sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Make sure you never share personal details or enter data into any external links. 

Romance scams 

These are one of the most common – and hurtful – scams out there. Scammers using TikTok to conduct romance scams might take video content from others to create a false identity and then message unsuspecting victims. Sometimes this is done with the intention to hurt and trick people, and other times it’s for financial gain. Once the TikTok scammer has built a rapport with someone, they may use the relationship to leverage financial transfers or for them to make purchases on their behalf. 

Never transfer money to someone you don’t know, or send cash or gifts to another person if you’re not totally sure they’re who they say you are. When it comes to your teens, don’t let them follow or engage with people they don’t know in real life, and ensure their profiles are private and secure. 

Fake celebrity scams

This type of scam is particularly cruel as it’s aimed at teens and children who idolize different celebrities and online influencers. A TikTok scammer will typically copy their content and pretend to be the celebrity in question – sometimes even convincing their victim that they’re interacting with a real ‘secret’ account. 

There are a number of different reasons that a TikTok scammer opts for this particular ruse, one major one being Cryptocurrency scams. The scammer will build up a lot of followers quickly to try and look legitimate and then share details of bogus investments.

Always check against the influencer’s official channels to see if it is something they are promoting and in general, don’t send money or take any financial advice or investment opportunities that you see circulating on social media.

Adult content scams

Typically a TikTok scammer using adult content is looking to steal financial information. These accounts might offer ‘premium content’ or personal pictures in exchange for money. The TikTok scammer will then likely block your account and steal your cash.

Using parental controls can help you block adult content from your kids’ devices, and you can use features like ‘telescope’ on Kidslox to monitor what they’re looking at through a series of remote screenshots sent to your device throughout the day.

Always ensure your child’s device is set to private and you have tools in place to prevent them accessing adult content. 

Phishing TikTok scams

TikTok scammers prey on their victim’s biggest  insecurities and desires. By offering things like authentication and private access to premium services, the scammers then ask their victims for personal information. They can use this to then blackmail you for money to return the account and change your passwords, approach people you follow and more.

Never click links and always second guess offers and incentives that seem too good to be true. If you’re not sure if it’s the legitimate organization or brand getting in touch, do your research. Call or message the official account to check things out. 

Fake messages from TikTok scams

Some TikTok scammers go a long way to convince their victims of their legitimacy. One of the ways they do this is by pretending to be a member of the app’s staff and requesting personal information, including passwords. TikTok would never message you and request your personal details. You can see more about this on the platform’s own resource hub here

Fake TikTok Job scams

If your teen is looking for part-time work, one of the major scams you should be aware of is the job scam. Typically, the scammer will post an advert or video talking about great and well paid opportunities. They will then request a registration fee to open up their network to you, but this is just a scam to get your financial details. Always check with the organization in question to see if they are hiring or not.

Mobile games scams 

If your child loves gaming they may well be tempted by the offer of cheap, or free, in-app game purchases. These offers are typically also scams and should be avoided. Ensure your child never gives card details without your permission. Kidslox can also help with stopping in-app purchases across a wide range of apps. 

Charity scams

One of the most nefarious types of TikTok scams is the charity scam. These scammers take your money by setting up fake TikTok causes or charities. Always do your research into the cause before donating or parting with any cash. If you want to donate, find the official charity website and use secure payment options. 

What can I do to stop TikTok scammers in their tracks?

One of the best ways that you can protect yourself and your family is through education. Learn how to recognise the signs and hallmarks of different scams and keep up to date with how these scams are evolving and becoming more sophisticated.

By understanding general principles of online etiquette, privacy and screen time management, you can help avoid your family falling foul of TikTok scammers. Here are our top tips:

  1. Ensure your privacy settings are secure and it’s not possible for strangers to send messages to your children directly. You can enable this through the app for under 16s.
  2. Not everyone has your best interests at heart. Scammers will use all sorts of tactics to gain your trust, so teaching your kids critical thought and having a healthy level of skepticism can really help when protecting yourself from scammers online.
  3. See something suspicious? Report it. TikTok has a dedicated area to report suspected scammers. Doing this helps protect others and keep the team at TikTok updated as to the different ways their users are misusing the platform.
  4. Stay secure by setting strong passwords and changing them often. Enabling 2-step verification is another way you can add a layer of security to keep hackers and TikTok scammers at bay.
  5. Manage the amount of time spent online. The more time you spend on TikTok, the likelier it is that you will run into a scammer. Keeping a healthy relationship with social media, and limiting your teens in how much screen time they’re allowed, is another way to keep the scammers away.
  6. Parental controls like Kidslox give you another tool in your armory against the TikTok scammers. You can add more security to your child’s device by blocking apps and sites, stopping them from searching for banned keywords (and getting a notification when they try!), and by reviewing their activity at the end of each day. You can see if your child has come into contact with scammers, or are vulnerable to them through the Kidslox Telescope feature, which can give you an on-demand view onto your child’s device by taking a screenshot on request. Android users can also see a day’s worth of screenshots by setting an automatic timer to take a picture of the child’s screen every 5 minutes (or interval of their choosing) that can be reviewed at the end of the day. 

Online and social media scams are becoming more common and more sophisticated. Be sure to keep checking our website and simple guides to keep to date with the latest fake TikTok and other social media scams.