How to avoid Facebook scams
Founded in 2004, Facebook is currently the largest social media platform in the world, with over three billion active users. Unfortunately, this huge user base means that there’s a lot of potential for scammers and other bad actors to attempt to defraud people via the platform.
Here’s quick guide to help you identify the top scams, to make sure you don’t fall victim to them. There are four main types of scams you’re likely to see on Facebook, some more serious than others – but all worth being aware of.
1. Shopping Scams
In a shopping scam, scammers will use Facebook marketplace to set up a fake store. Often these will be selling luxury or expensive items at extremely discounted rates. You’ll most likely come across these stores when actively shopping on the platform, however, scammers will also use Facebook ads to direct you to a fake online store set up on a website. As with any website, if you see a deal that looks too good to be true, it probably is, and you’ll either end up with a fake product or nothing at all.
So how can you avoid shopping scams? Check reviews. Try not to purchase from a store with few to no reviews, or ones that have only just started. Look for stores or sellers with lots of reviews (from real people) and with a history on the platform.
If you think you’ve stumbled across a scam, you should also report it to Facebook.
2. Fake Prize Scams
Giveaway scams come in a few different forms, but generally you can expect to receive a direct message, often as someone posing as a company or celebrity telling you that you’ve won a prize. If you know that you haven’t entered a competition, these messages should be an instant red flag, and you should report the person messaging you.
However, sometimes scammers are a little bit smarter and the prize may be for a legitimate competition that is running and you have entered. In this scenario, they may say they need some details from you – for example, bank details/address/passwords – so that you can claim the prize.
The first thing you should do is to go back and check the competition details. Usually, brands or influencers will state the date they will reach out to the winners, and how they will be contacted. If your message doesn’t align with these details, it is not legitimate.
You should also double check who the person messaging you is – is it the brand’s actual page, or a copycat? If you’re in any doubt, just message the account you know is running the competition and explain the situation. They’ll be more than happy to help.
Finally, remember you should never share private details like passwords or credit card numbers over social media.
3. Fake Charity Scams
Facebook can be a fantastic place to discover good causes and worthy charities. However, beware, it’s also the home of many charity scams. These are where people set up a fake charity, or Just Giving page, and ask you to donate money to the ‘worthy cause’.
Always make sure you do your research before giving any money. In most countries charities are required to be registered by a national charities commission or some other similar body. Check the relevant website, and check charity numbers that are required to be listed on websites. When looking at a Just Giving page, make sure that the platform is not a fake, and that you can find the relevant page through your own searching rather than just through links on Facebook.
4. Quiz or Phishing Scams
Have you ever wondered what type of dragon you would be? Or if you really suit your star sign? Or maybe what your name would be if you went to a certain wizarding boarding school?
If the answer to any of these questions is yes, you may have accidentally been involved in a Quiz Scam, which is where someone produced a quiz designed to ask you specific questions to obtain your personal data. For example, they may ask for your birth month, first letter of your middle name, and first pet. While these seem like simple answers, they can help a scammer build a profile on you which can allow them to farm your personal data or access your accounts.
Make sure you check that any quizzes come from legitimate and reputable companies, such as Buzzfeed, before playing, and always stop the game if you’re asked too many personal details.