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Why Are There So Many Facebook “Free Giveaway” Scams? Learn How to Spot Them and Avoid Them

Stephen Lam, Getty Images

In a growing trend over the past year, Facebook fan pages have been popping up, offering free items like iPads, phones, computers, and other electronics and prizes. All the pages ask you to do is “like” or share the page or post in order to win. Pages like this are categorically considered fraudulent by social media specialists. Why are these pages being made, and how can you spot a fake?

According to CNET, “unsealed” or “damaged packaging” promotions like the one below are a growing ploy by underhanded Facebook “real estate agents” that set up a page and gather hundreds or thousands of likes, then sell the page and all of its followers to another company that renames the page and uses it for something else.

Facebook

Fraudulent pages like this, or even legitimate pages offering contests of this nature are in breach of Facebook’s Terms of Service, which explicitly state that promotions or contests cannot use likes, shares, or checking in to a location as a condition of a contest. Those in the know say you should report contests of this nature.

As far as security concerns go, simply “liking” a fraudulent page doesn’t necessarily put you or your computer in jeopardy. The worrisome things experts point out are as follows:

  • Links related to these contests may lead to malicious web pages that might seek to install harmful software or attempt to collect information from you. You should never click on a questionable link from an untrusted source.
  • Many Facebook users “like” pages, then forget about them. In instances of fraudulent pages being sold and renamed, this may associate you with a brand or cause you may not want to “like” on your social network. Experts recommend looking through your list of likes on a regular basis and managing your public image.
  • Once fraudulent pages like this are sold, they have a database of users to spam with unwanted information or potentially harmful links. Following the advice of the two previous points can greatly help you avoid falling victim.

Experts do point out that Facebook now has verified pages for celebrities and major brands. These pages are marked with a blue checkmark on the brand or celebrity’s page. While these verified page markers make it easy to confirm the validity of major brands and celebrities, smaller businesses and brands are not currently given the option to verify their page, so Facebook users should use their best judgement. You can learn more about verified Facebook pages here.

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