Here’s the Catch: You’re scrolling through your Instagram feed and see a post from your favorite brand, announcing a giveaway. The brand prompts you to like, comment, tag your acquaintances, and share their post to enter. Later you see the page announce that you’re a winner. You receive a link and it asks you to enter your credit card or banking information to claim your prize. Alert! Alert! Don’t go any further. It’s a scam and you haven’t won.
Social media giveaways are one of many ways scammers defraud users. While you follow brands and individuals on Facebook or Instagram, fraudsters do too. They pay attention to promotions and events advertised on social media and create fake giveaways to lure in victims. If you think you’re entering a giveaway or may even believe you’ve won a prize, if you have to pay, it’s a scam.
Kim’s Advice: While everyone wants to be a winner, a little research, careful checking, and common sense goes a long way. Never pay for a free prize or gift. Exercise caution if the offer requires you to enter your financial information.
Before entering any sweepstakes or giveaway, check out who is offering and endorsing it before you click to sign up. If it is an offer from a popular brand, reach out to the brand directly to check the legitimacy of the giveaway. Use the website, phone number, or email you trust to reach out to the business, not the information on the giveaway post.
If you receive an email or text saying you’ve won and a link to claim your prize, don’t click on it. The link or website could contain malware. Malware can be a virus, spyware, or ransomware that can threaten your computer or mobile device. Never click suspicious links or links that are sent to you out the blue. Delete the email and don’t respond.
Safeguard your personal and financial information. Your information in the wrong hands can cause you much financial and mental distress. With identity theft at an all-time high, it is vital that you protect your banking, credit card, and identification information.
You might ask, what if I paid a scammer already? What can I do? Well, here are a few helpful tips:
- Credit card payments can be disputed if you suspect fraud. Contact your financial institution and tell them you’d like the charges reversed due to fraud.
- Fraudulent bank transfers can be reported to your bank as unauthorized debits or withdrawals. Request that the transaction be reversed.
- Paid by gift card? Contact the gift card issuer and request a refund. Make sure to have the gift card and receipt.
- If you wired money through a money transfer service such as Western Union, MoneyGram, or Ria, report the fraudulent transfer to the wire transfer company.
If you believe you’ve given a scammer your personal information, visit identyTheft.gov for assistance. And if you believe you’ve given a scammer access to your computer or mobile device, update your security software and scan your computer for issues. For cell phone issues, contact your provider.
Follow Business Consumer Alliance on Facebook for additional consumer tips, scam alerts, and more.