Sunday 13 May 2012

Avoiding the scammers on Facebook

If you are a comper who uses Facebook, it won't be very long before one of your friends invites you to an "event" where there are a massive number of prizes to be won, or maybe even a prize for every one accepting the invitation. There doesn't appear to be any catch - everyone accepting will get a £250 voucher for Tesco or Asda, a pair of expensive shoes or, in the latest incarnation, tickets to Alton Towers.

Before you think "I'll give this a go, after all, I have nothing to lose" just stop and think for a moment. Often these events claim to be giving away millions of pounds worth of freebies - how could any business afford to do that? A genuine competition is more likely to be giving a single large prizes, a number of smaller prizes or a mixture of both. A huge gift to every entrant is just beyond the budget of even the biggest companies.  Check on the timeline of the company alleged to be providing the giveaway - buy going to it directly, not through any link in the giveaway. If they really ARE being so generous, they'll be shouting about it from the treetops!

One big clue that it is a scam is that the scammers often use the term "Inc." as part of the company name - Tesco Inc., Alton Towers Inc., and so on, even when they are claiming to be a British company. British companies don't use the term Inc, so that should get your scam-detectors buzzing before you read any further. 

So what do the scammers get from it, and can it do you any harm to accept? Well,  scams  like this are called "Survey scams" because if you accept the event, the next step is that you will be told that before you can have your gift or prize, you need to complete one or more surveys. While completing them, you will be asked for your mobile phone number - and this is where it turns nasty. Because  once they have your mobile number, the scammers will start to send you expensive-to-receive premium rate texts, and once you start getting them they can  be very difficult to stop.

In some cases, when you "Like" the scammer's page, you will also find yourself authorising a Facebook app which can spam all your friends and send them yet more fake offers and events, in the hope that they too will sign up to be scammed.

And  at the end  of it all - nobody gets the vouchers, the shoes or the tickets!

You can read more about these scams in the Survey Scams section of Hoax Slayer - a very useful site to check if you are ever unsure about whether anything online is genuine. And do feel free to contact me on Facebook if you would like me to check whether a competition or offer looks genuine.  I can't promise to always have the answer, but I'll do my best to help.

No comments :

Post a Comment

Note: only a member of this blog may post a comment.