Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Like and Share to win FREE (insert item here)

A few days ago, I was cruising Facebook and saw where one of my friends had "liked" and "shared" a pictured from Disneyland, Inc. to win free Disneyland tickets. The FB page claimed to be THE Disneyland. Well, I am a bit of a Disney fanatic (come on, I own annual passes and we live in PHOENIX!) and I have "liked" the OFFICIAL Disneyland page, so I knew he had been had.

So I posted the following warning on my FB page:

"To all my friends & family: PLEASE be aware of the pages you are "liking" and the "share this to enter our free giveaway" pictures you are sharing. Groups use legitimate company names (Disney & Southwest Airlines are the largest victims, but Apple & Microsoft show up frequently, too.) These scam groups are NOT giving anything away. Their whole goal is to get as many likes on the page as possible, and then they SELL the FB page to another group. (Usually an undesirable group that you would NEVER want to be associated with or a group trying to steal personal info). One of the easiest ways to see if it legitimately is the company is to go to the profile. If it is Southwest Airlines and they only have a few hundred or thousand likes, that is your first clue it is not legit. Also, VERIFIED corporate pages have a little blue circle with a check-mark in it. When you hover over it, a pop-up that says "Verified" comes up.

Southwest Airlines does do legitimate giveaways, however, it is NEVER a like and share. When you go to their page, they have an actual entry form that you have to fill out. If you want to see their giveaways, go to the REAL SW ( linked at the beginning of this paragraph) airlines page and like their page and you will see their contests. Also, many SMALL companies do giveaways this way, hoping to increase their social media exposure. Just make sure they are a legitimate company before liking their page.

There are no stacks of unopened iPads or XBox 360s sitting around waiting to be given out. And Bill Gates is NOT giving away money to everyone who shares his post. However, Larry Fitzgerald does do that on occasion. Not money, but game tickets, swag, and a share of a lottery ticket when the pot gets big. To participate in his giveaways, make sure you like his FB page and follow him on Twitter.

The point is, BE CAREFUL! When you like a page, you are granting those groups access to certain information on your profile. Make sure that your are entering contest from LEGITIMATE companies, not scam artist. Why am I posting this? In the last week, I have seen no less than 20 of my friends/family members getting conned by these groups and it bothers me. I don't want any of you getting scammed or having personal information compromised."

Most of my friends ignored me, because they are just SURE that they cannot be fooled. But I decided to press on with my desire to educate the public, hence this post.

At the time I was writing this blog, I went looking for an example of one of the fraudulent companies, but having a heck of a time. They are pretty quick about selling off the page and changing the name because they know the REAL company will come after them.  So, while I don't have an example of a fraud right now, I do have a legitimate site.

Some things to help you in recognizing a fraud:

The first clue that this IS a valid page is the blue circle with the check mark in it. This means that Facebook has verified that this is the real company and the page is legit. This is usually only done on HUGE corporate pages. So there are other, official Disney pages (D23, Annual Passholders, Holidays, etc) that are really Disney pages, but that have not been verified.

The second clue is the number of likes. The page that scammed my friend had 100 likes. Disneyland only having 100 likes? Come on. But he wasn't paying attention to that. All he saw was free Disneyland tickets, so he went for it.

The third clue is the name. On the scam page, it said Disneyland, Inc. A few seconds on Google will show you that the official Disney name is The Walt Disney Company, and all US parks also fall under that company. They don't have their own corporations.

There are a lot of things that scammers do to convince you that their giveaway is real. They will SAY they are the official page, they will copy the logo that the official page has, they copy info from the real page, and even include a link to the real company website. But if you just take a few minutes to look the page over, you can quickly see the scams.

Be careful. This time of year, we are all looking for a bargain or a great freebie. Just make sure you are doing your research. And go with your gut. If it seems too good to be true, it probably is.

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