We’ve all seen a post or link on Facebook claiming to be giving something away.
Sometimes you need to share and comment on a Facebook post to win. Sometimes you need to click a link and then fill out a survey. Sometimes both.
Unless they’re being operated from a ‘blue tick’ verified Facebook page (or the official Facebook page of a local brand you trust) then it is almost certainly going to be a scam. Criminals are luring victims with the bait of a free prize that simply doesn’t exist.
Despite the popularity of these scams and the fact that sites like ours have been warning against them for years, they’re still as popular as ever. Facebook users enter them “just in case” they’re the real deal. After all, what harm can it do?
The problem with this thinking is that just because the harm isn’t self-evident, it doesn’t mean it isn’t real. Entering into these schemes can have a number of harmful effects. Here are a few.
You’re giving spammers – possibly crooks – the ability to reach you (and scam you)
Whether you’ve been asked to follow a Facebook page or asked to provide your contact information for a survey, what you’re actually doing is giving a spammer, maybe even a cyber-crook, the ability to reach you. To contact you.
This means you’re giving them a chance to spam you and potentially scam you. You are telling them you were gullible enough to fall for the scheme in the first place, so you’re a good target for more spam or scams.
For example, if you’re asked to follow a Facebook page, their future (and potentially scammy) posts will appear on your newsfeed. Or you can be messaged through Facebook Messenger and told you’ve won a prize which turns out to be a scam like the one we describe here.
Or if you’re told to hand over your contact information as part of a survey to “unlock” your prize, you’ll be bombarded with spam via any and all contact information you provided, including your email, phone and even your postal address. And if you give enough information away, you run the risk of becoming the victim of identity theft.
You’re putting money into the pockets of crooks
No one likes the idea of helping crooks or spammers make money, but every time you interact with these scams, that is exactly what you’re doing.
If you like or share a post, you’re helping it spread. If you fill out a survey, you’re earning a spammer a commission. If you’re handing over your personal information, you’re padding out a spammers contact list. If you give away too much information, you’re playing into the hands of identity thieves.
Don’t help spammers and crooks make money. Stay away from these posts altogether.
You’re sharing the same scams to your friends
You wouldn’t recommend your friend’s house to a thief, so why do the same online? These schemes will ask you to share them onto your own timeline so your friends can see them, before you have actually gotten anything in return. That’s not a good deal.
If a post or webpage asks you to share a link to your own timeline (or to share it to groups where you’re a member) then don’t. If you’re not sure it’s legitimate, then you’re not being particularly responsible by sharing it to your friends.
Not only that, but you’re also plaguing social media with more nonsense, misinformation and deception, and that isn’t something social media needs. Be responsible for the information you choose to share. We all have a responsibility to ensure the information we disseminate is credible and accurate. If we shirk that responsibility, then we help devalue the value social media for everyone who uses it.