Facebook-owned, photo-based social media site Instagram is a fun place to see what your friends are up to while also finding out more about the hottest trends and products. Instagram influencers and brands promote products on the platform as a part of regular content. Until recently the option to purchase those products was only found in links in the post’s text that led to external sites. Now the company is unveiling their long-awaited feature, Instagram checkout.

Since products were only reachable through clickable links in an Instagram profile bio or through paid advertisements, the process to purchase products promoted organically was cumbersome. There was also no way of knowing if this was a genuine retailer or simply someone who claimed to have the product.

Parent company Facebook has finally announced the launch of a beta test of its new Instagram checkout feature that will allow you to shop for products right within the platform. No more hunting for the exact same product online, following a broken link or scammers setting up fake links that steal your money and information… oh wait. No, that last one is still a big threat.

In order to make a purchase through Instagram from one of the 23 retailers who have been selected to test the launch, your payment information must already be stored in your Facebook account. Users who are not comfortable storing their payment details in the app will not be able to take advantage of this feature. When deciding whether or not you should add your payment information, consider the security of your account. If your account is easily accessible to third parties or hackers or there is a data breach of Facebook, or one of its linked platforms, your payment information is now accessible to possible criminals.

More importantly, only retailers who have a blue “Checkout on Instagram” button on their post will be able to take payment through Instagram checkout. Anyone else who claims that their link lets you make the purchase through Instagram directly may be “spoofing” the feature, which means it is not verified by Instagram and therefore could end up being a scam. Other companies can still post images on the site and include links that lead you to a different website to make the purchase including advertisements. Since those account sales are not verified through Instagram, the same purchase concerns previously mentioned still exist.

In order to protect yourself from shopping scams and identity thieves, it is important to know the exact capabilities of Instagram purchasing. Again, the blue button will show that the account has been verified by Instagram and approved to conduct transactions. Other accounts might still be authentic, but could also be a scam. If you do not see the blue button, it might be worth looking up the account’s website for yourself and locating the item for sale, then making your purchase from a retail platform that you trust. Remember to use protected payment methods like a major credit card or money transfer app in order to add another layer of security to your purchases.

Contact the Identity Theft Resource Center for toll-free, no-cost assistance at (888) 400-5530. For on-the-go assistance, check out the free ID Theft Help App from ITRC.

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