After entering 100s of competitions on Facebook and Instagram you login one afternoon to discover a message in your DMs. “You are a winner”! In your excitement you quickly fire off the details that have been requested like your name, address, email address, credit card number… hold on did we say credit card number. Why would a company sending you a prize need your credit card number? The answer is that they don’t and that this winning DM isn’t a winning message. It’s a scam.
Sadly with the way that Facebook and Instagram competitions work – like, share, and tag – this gives people access to a lot of names who are interested in winning prizes. This can result in unscrupulous people targeting compers in an attempt to get their details. Some of these attempts are quite subtle with the scammer creating a similar name account to the competition promoter (e.g. XYZ Widgets could be scammed by XYZ Widget). The scammers will use the same avatars too so when a message pops up on your social media it may immediately seem genuine. So how do you go about keeping safe entering social media competitions and spotting potential scams?
Do Not Give Out Your Credit Card Number!
If you do receive a winning message from a company don’t dive in and reply to them or follow a link they’ve sent to a form asking for your information. Most certainly do not send them any details and definitely do not hand out your credit card information. The big competition entering rule is that you shouldn’t pay to receive a prize. Promoters do not need your credit card details! The key thing to do is to determine if the winning message you’ve received is genuine.
When you receive a Direct Message from a company page on Facebook you can click the name of the company at the top of the messenger box to reveal a drop down. From that drop down you’ll be able to clickthrough to their Facebook page. You can do a similar process on Instagram too. This is your first step to checking if your winning message is valid. Your message should come direct from a valid company page – e.g. XYZ Widgets. Are you on a genuine company’s page? Can you see the competition you entered? Has the competition closed? Are all the details about the company correct?
Ask For Their Contact Details
Check to see if there’s anything that looks untoward – for example there are no posts on the page you’ve visited or details are missing – then go to the search box and look for the company that has contacted you. Can you locate the official page for XYZ Widgets. Is it the same page that you’ve just been looking at? When you have found that page click on the ‘Message’ button (on Facebook) or the ‘Arrow’ (on Instagram) as though you’re going to contact that company. Does the winning message appear in the chatbox? If yes then great news! If not then it’s likely to be a scam.
If after doing these checks and you’re still unsure reply to the message and ask for some contact details. A genuine promoter will provide you with their name, email address and contact number which you should be able to verify online. You might also want to check in with a few comping friends and ask for their advice. All this shouldn’t take you more than a few minutes to do but it could save you from giving your details to scammers.
What To Do With A Scam Message
If you do receive a scam message then first of all contact the company that’s being targeted. Let them know what’s going on because if it’s happened to you it may happen to others. Other people may not be aware it’s a scam. Report it to Facebook or Instagram too although they really don’t seem to give a toss in stamping this kind of nonsense out. Finally let other compers know what’s happening and what to look out for. The more people become aware of these issues the less people should fall for them.
The key points again are make sure the message has originated from a genuine company page. If you’re uncertain of anything ask for contact details including name, email and a phone number. Be wary of any ‘win’ that requests you click to a website to complete your details so the prize can be sent to you. Most certainly do not give out any credit card details for a competition win – ever!