A lot of Facebook Pages run competitions. Some of them are legitimate giveaways, while others are total scams designed to collect your personal information.
There’s also a grey area where legitimate Pages run competitions on Facebook in a way they shouldn’t. While there’s no one smoking gun you can look for to spot a fake competition, there are a few things you can look for that might mean something shady is going on. Let’s break it all down.
The Prize Is Too Good to Be True
One of the biggest hints that a competition is a scam is the quality of the prize and what you have to do to win it. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Ford is almost certainly not going to giveaway a brand new Mustang using Facebook. Nor is the budget airline EasyJet going to give everyone £500 vouchers to celebrate their anniversary; they’d be out of business in a year.
This isn’t to say that there aren’t competitions where you can win a Mustang or a £500 flight voucher, it’s just that those are big prizes. There will be a lot more to the competition than taking a quick survey that gives away your personal information.
Dodgy URLs or Pages
Take a close look at the URL and Page that claims to be giving something away. Often, they are a very good way to get an idea as to whether or not a competition is legitimate.
Take, for example, the URL of the EasyJet “competition” my friend shared in the screenshot above. It’s “easyjet.com-air.win”. While it does include “easyjet.com”, it’s followed by “-air.win”. This means the actual website domain is “com-air.win”; the “easyjet” bit is a sub-domain like “www”. If I wanted to, I could set up “easyjet.harryguinness.com” in the same way.
I’ve also seen a similar thing with Facebook Pages, where the Page name is the same as the official one, but it’s followed by a period. For example, if “Ford USA” is the official Facebook Page, scammers will set up “Ford USA.” and run a competition from it.
Any of this sort of URL or Page name weirdness should raise serious red flags.
No Official Announcement on the Home Page
Here’s another good test: check the official website of the company that the competition claims to be from. When I visit the EasyJet website, the first thing I see is a massive banner announcing a 20% off sale. While it’s not proof, the fact they display promotions so prominently is definitely a hint that the competition isn’t legitimate….
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