Perhaps one of the longest running scams operating on Facebook is the fake giveaway scam. Despite their notoriety, they are still one of the most popular and successful scams on the social media site today.
Almost every active Facebook user has, at some point, come across either a Facebook Page or Facebook Event purporting to offer free products. Often your chance of winning is dependent on you first joining the event, liking the page or sharing/commenting on a post that they make, like the one below.
Popular brands like Apple, Tesco, Walmart, Samsung, Dell, Disney and Microsoft are often exploited by this type of scam, which uses people’s naivety to help spread itself across Facebook, being passed along by one friend to another.
Such scams will typically require users perform certain steps in order to win (or become eligible) to win the prize on offer. These steps will often include some of the below…
– sharing/commenting/liking a post
– visiting a webpage and sharing it on your Facebook wall
– joining a Facebook group, Page or event
– installing a Facebook app
Things will often turn more sinister if the user is then instructed to visit an external site, thus leaving the comparably safe Facebook environment and venture into the online unknown.
From there a user can be instructed to complete surveys and questionnaires to “proceed” or to “verify their age”. However these surveys will harvest a visitors personal information potentially leading to spam, hefty SMS subscription plans and in worst case scenarios identity theft. These are known as survey scams.
The Page in the image above has nothing to do with Apple, and is used to lure visitors into completing spammy surveys, after which there is no real chance of winning anything, despite the claims made all over the page.
Like-farming Facebook Pages also exploit these types of posts. Like-farming scammers will aim to create Facebook Pages with sa many followers as possible, which are then sold to scammers or marketers. More on like-farming scams here.
To help you avoid these scams make sure you understand the below advice –
1. Branded companies such as Dell or Apple will run promotions via their official websites and social media channels. Therefore any promotion that is being run from a third party website or alternative Facebook Page should not be trusted. Official Facebook pages are marked with a little blue tick and will typically have an extremely large following. (e.g. Dell has 7.5 million, which is pretty average.)
2. If you see a post promoting a contest, always to go the Page that posted the post and check if they are the official outlet for the company holding the contest. You can usually determine this using the tip above, or another way is to go to the official website and find their Facebook link on their site which will take you to the official page. Easy! (or you could probably even type the company name and “Facebook Page” into Google!)
3. Never ever trust promotional contests that condition entry on giving away your personal information to third party websites. These rewards programs are spammy and harvest a user’s information in order to spam them with useless marketing “deals” and “offers”. Additionally never give out your phone number either as you’ll likely be entered into expensive SMS subscription plans.
4. Ask yourself these questions –
a. Is it an official page from a trustworthy organisation? No means probably a scam.
b. Has it only recently been created? Yes means its certainly a scam.
c. Do the vast majority of posts on the Page asking you to Like and Share images, or to Like the Page? Yes means its certainly a scam.
Remember that having reliable security software installed can block some of these threats.
Also remember that your personal information is valuable to spammers. Tricking a user into thinking they will receive some freebie is an easy opportunity for a spammer to lure victims into handing over that valuable information.
So, bottom line, always think twice before complying with the demands of an offer that looks too good to be true. Especially if it is on Facebook!