Monday, November 26, 2012

How To: Protect Yourself From Facebook Deal Scams

Sneaking outBeing in the digital marketing business, I spend a lot of time on social media sites. I am constantly planning campaigns, checking out how my active campaigns are going, seeing what the competition is doing, etc, etc, etc.

Because I spend so much time with social media, I see scams almost daily. Some are very sophisticated and well thought-out and some are so bootleg and obvious that you almost want to de-friend someone for falling for it.

It is holiday shopping season and if the past week is any indication of things to come, the scammers are going to be putting in a little overtime to get the best of social media users this month.

Here are a few measures that I take when I see an offer on Facebook I may want to claim. Following these simple steps before you claim an offer may save you headaches and hassles in the long run.

When you see a tempting deal on Facebook:

1) Use the Facebook search feature to check out the page of the brand "offering" the deal. 

If the deal is a real Facebook Offer, it had to be set up as a page post in the first place, so it will live in the page's posts somewhere.

If the deal, for some reason, isn't an official Facebook offer, it will still be mentioned somewhere in their page posts. Frankly, if the deal truly comes from the brand, they are going to promote the hell out of it. I have been a part of many, many Facebook offers in the short time that they have been available to brands and never have I had a client say "Let's give them an offer, but don't tell them about it."

Seriously, it will be mentioned on their page.

If there is no mention of the deal anywhere in the brand's page posts, that should be strike one and two and maybe even three. Personally, that is where I draw the line, but I know that some of you may be tempted by the potential for a really good deal, so I offer a few more ways to investigate.

2) Check the "Recent Posts by Others" section of the brand's Facebook page for other users talking about the "deal." 

Anyone investigating last week's Target debacle would have stopped here. There were countless people complaining about not getting their deal, and even a response from Target confirming the scam. People do not hold back on social media and if they think there is the slightest chance they were wronged by a brand, they are going to let the brand hear about it on their page.

3) Google the key words of the offer. 

Once you get your results, click on the search tools and select "Past 24 hours." Sometimes there will be mentions of the scam already. You can also try Google News. If the scam has spread far enough, there is a chance sites like Mashable, AllFacebook (or FacebookTipsBlog) will have a post about it.

4) Go to Twitter and search using the same keywords that you Googled. 

You will get one of two very different sets of results. You will either see a bunch of users tweeting about the great deal they just received, or (much like in step 2) you will see a bunch of people complaining about being taken by the brand. This should give you a decent barometer of the deal's legitimacy.

5) If all else fails, send the brand a message on their Facebook page.

Right next to the Like button under the cover image on a brand's page is the message button. This is a great way to get an answer directly from the brand or their representative. Once you have left a message, check back on the brand's page frequently. If they received a large enough amount of messages about the same topic, they may not have the bandwidth to reply to all and just address it directly in a page post.

There you have it. If you follow these steps, the chances of you getting scammed will be reduced significantly. Always do your due diligence before you click on something and offer up your private information because you can never be too careful these days. In most cases, the old adage still rings very true..If it looks too good to be true, it probably is!

Image Credit: Marcel Oosterwijk

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