Don’t get stung by a social media scam

Esther Shaw / 02 December 2016

Be careful if you see anyone offering ‘something for nothing’ on social media.

Consumers are being urged to be on their guard if they see a promotion posted on social media by a well-known brand which seems to have been endorsed by their family and friends.

New research from Which? shows lots of people are falling for bogus offers on Facebook and other sites which usually promise “something for nothing.”
These purport to come from popular brands, such as Morrisons, Lidl, easyJet and British Airways.

We take a closer look.

What do the fake deals look like?

These sophisticated social media scams, using official brand logos, can seem very convincing.

In some cases, there are even detailed Ts and Cs setting out how the coupon should be used.

A spokesman for Which? says: “It’s easy for people to get sucked in when they see friends and family seeming to endorse them by ‘sharing’ them. The problem is, the people you trust are obliviously doing the fraudsters’ bidding.”

Six tips for staying safe on social media

Personal details could be compromised

With these posts, fraudsters will give users of Facebook and other social media sites an incentive to click through.

For example, one such scam claiming to come from Morrisons offered a free £75 coupon to celebrate its 117th anniversary, while one that  purported to come from Easyjet offered two free tickets on its 21st anniversary.

Such posts are fraudulent and in no way associated with these companies.

The aim is to trick you into spamming your friends with the same fake promotion, so that the virus spreads.

Equally, if you do click on the link, your personal details could be sent to suspect third party websites – or worse, used to steal your identity.

10 tips for using social media sites safely

What are the warning signs?

Scams of this nature are prevalent on Facebook, but have been cleverly designed to look as though they are official, so can be hard to spot.

Nonetheless, the alarm bells should sound if a well-known brand is offering impressive “freebies” to celebrate a particular birthday or anniversary, or an extremely generous offer or discount to “everyone.”

Spelling and grammatical mistakes can be another tell-tale sign that something is not right, as can inaccuracies in the images.

You also need to be wary if a promotion asks you to share the page with your friends.

Signs an email may be a scam

How to protect yourself

• Think carefully before clicking on any link to ensure you’re not being led into something dodgy. This is the case even if the link arrives from you think is a legitimate source.

• If you are not sure about any link, type the “promotion” into Google and see what comes up. Also check if there are any warnings about scams on the “real” pages of the supermarket or airline or company.

• Ask the friend or family member who shared the post with you whether they intended to do so

• Remember the old adage: if a deal seems too good to be true, it probably is.

How to spot and avoid Facebook ‘like’ scams

Report it

If you do suspect something is a scam, you should do your best to avoid it.

You should also report it to Facebook, or whichever social media network you are using.

Five ways to spot a fake profile on social media

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The opinions expressed are those of the author and are not held by Saga unless specifically stated.

The material is for general information only and does not constitute investment, tax, legal, medical or other form of advice. You should not rely on this information to make (or refrain from making) any decisions. Always obtain independent, professional advice for your own particular situation.