(KVOA) – The Better Business Bureau (BBB) has issued a scam alert, telling consumers how to avoid falling victim to fake social media “giveaways”.
“You see a post promoting a giveaway on Facebook, Instagram, or other social media platform,” the BBB said in a news release. “In order to win $500 in groceries or another substantial prize, all you need to do is comment on the post, and you’ll be entered in the drawing.”
The BBB warned that while the scam may seem like an easy way to win money or a gift, many of these “giveaways” don’t really exist.
According to the BBB, they are created by scammers as a way of accumulating as many social media “likes” and comments as possible. The technique is known as “like-farming”.
The BBB said like-farming aims to accomplish several different goals.
“Often, the giveaway post itself is initially harmless – albeit fake. But when the scammer collects enough likes and shares, they will edit the post and add something malicious, such as a link to malware,” the BBB said. “Other times, once scammers reach their target number of likes, they strip the page’s original content and use it to promote spammy products or sell it on the black market.”
However, some giveaways are real. For example, the BBB said CashApp has been running weekly cash prize giveaways since 2017.
The BBB has suggested people watch out for the following signs to spot a fake giveaway from a real one:
- Look for the blue checkmark. Many social media platforms verify pages from brands and celebrities so that users can tell real pages from copycats. The BBB said to make sure you look for that trust mark before liking and sharing content.
- Watch out for new accounts: If you think a giveaway is real, click on the business or celebrity’s profile. The BBB said if it’s a new account with very little other content, that’s a big red flag.
- Look out for spelling errors and typos: Real brands use giveaways to promote their company. Spelling errors and typos will make them look bad! The BBB said these are big warning signs of a scam.
- The giveaway asks you to complete too many tasks: If a giveaway asks you to comment on multiple posts, follow several accounts, and tag a couple of brands, the BBB said it becomes almost impossible to keep track of everyone participating and pick a winner at random (as required by law).
- There are no terms and conditions. Online giveaways should include contact details of the organizer, how to take part, how the winner will be selected, and eligibility requirements. The BBB said if you don’t see the information, that’s an instant red flag.
- Don’t click “like” on every post in your feed. Be sure you only “like” posts and articles that are legitimate.
You can learn more about sweepstake scams by reading these tips from the Federal Trade Commission.