Alex Thomas Salder
Some type of new Facebook scam surfaces just about every day — and there’s never a shortage of fake deals and discounts that are just after users’ money!
These offers typically appear harmless — just like this photo or page to win xxx — when in reality, they can cause some serious damage.
Beware of fake offers on Facebook
As we approach the holiday shopping season, you should be on the lookout for fake offers online and especially on Facebook — as scammers try to take advantage of people who are looking for ways to save.
When you see what looks like a great deal on Facebook (or anywhere online), if the offer seems too good to be true, you might hesitate at first. But then there’s that feeling that you could be missing out on a seriously good deal, so you check it out.
Maybe you’ve never heard of the website, but it has millions of likes on Facebook, great photos of all the products, and the page even posts links back to some website several times a day — that does not mean it is a legitimate company or legitimate offer!
Just like other phishing and online scams, criminals make these offers and Facebook pages very official-looking. They use professional photos and very enticing language.
And these scams come in all different shapes and sizes.
New fake offer targeting people interested in the iPhone 7
According to a report by Inc. Magazine, there’s a new scam circulating on Facebook targeting people who may be interested in the new iPhone 7. According to the report, the offer may say something like “Win an iPhone 7 by liking this picture” or “Click this link to enter to win a new iPhone 7.”
If a post claims you will get something free in return for liking, clicking, sharing etc., it’s most likely a scam — regardless of how big or small the freebie is!
And there are a couple of common goals that criminals have when carrying out these phony offers:
- Malware: When you click the link in one of these scam posts, you could be directed to a site that automatically downloads some type of malware or virus onto your device — allowing the criminals to track your every move without you even realizing it. So when you go to log in to your bank account or other account that contains your personal information, they can track it, steal your credentials and then then wreak havoc on your financial life!
- Phishing: Phishing is a way for criminals to carry out identity theft by using fake websites, emails and robocalls to try and steal your personal information — including passwords, banking info, Social Security number and other sensitive data. When you click on a link in a fake offer, you may be prompted to enter your Facebook credentials to “redeem the offer.” That is a big red flag that it’s a scam!
How to avoid fake offers and other scams circulating on Facebook
Red flags that an offer or company on Facebook is fake:
- The Facebook page has zero negative reviews or comments.
- If you can’t find a phone number or address for the company.
What to do if you’ve responded to an alert or other notification that you think could be a scam:
- Get rid of malware. Update or download legitimate security software and scan your computer. Delete anything it identifies as a problem. Here’s a list of free antivirus and malware protection options.
- Change any passwords that you gave out. If you use these passwords for other accounts, change those accounts, too.
- If you paid for bogus services with a credit card, call your credit card provider and ask to reverse the charges. Check your statements for any other charges you didn’t make, and ask to reverse those, too.
- If you believe that someone may have accessed your personal or financial information, visit the FTC’s identity theft website. You can minimize your risk of further damage and repair any problems already in place.
- File a complaint with the FTC at ftc.gov/complaint.
Tips to avoid similar scams
- Don’t click on any links in an email or text you weren’t expecting: Scammers often disguise malware attacks as emails that appear to be from a friend, helpful website or company you do business with. If you aren’t sure about it, delete the email and contact the friend or company directly. If you click on any link or attachment in an email you weren’t expecting, it could install malware on your device without you even realizing it until your bank account has been drained.
- Don’t click on any links in a Facebook post from a source you don’t recognize: If it’s an offer for something free but requires you to like, share, click or do anything else to redeem the free offer — don’t do it! It’s probably a scam.
- If you receive an email claiming to be from your bank or other company that has your personal information, don’t click on any of the links: Even if it looks official, it could still very easily be a scam. Instead, log in to your account separately to check for any new notices. You can also call the company about the information sent via email.
- Research unknown sites before going to them directly: When it comes to spotting potentially-dangerous websites, before you go to an unknown site, double-check the spelling of the web address/URL by first doing a search for it.
- Run anti-virus software: Frequently run anti-virus protection programs on your devices to check for any malware that could be hiding in the background. Here’s a list of free options.