How likely is it that you win a gift card? When was the last time you were expecting to win one that was worth a lot? The odds of that happening are next to nil. That’s not entirely fair. Some firms do enter customers into competitions, especially when Christmas is coming up. But when was the last time you heard of someone winning a $500 Amazon gift card, and it wasn’t a scam? It has indeed become rather vital to be able to recognise and avoid gift card scams. Avoiding free gift cards scams is now imperative.
Here are a few questions you should ask yourself prior to clicking any links and falling prey to cybercriminals.
Is the Email Account the real McCoy?
Bilkers use gift card scams because they’re perpetual and can yield much cash rather effortlessly. Therefore, they don’t bother promising gift cards for small stores that leave people scratching their heads: they aim for the big names like Amazon and eBay!
So, if your inbox says you’ve got an email from “Amazon Gift Cards”, how do you find out if it’s fake?
Look at the email address it’s come from. Most people overlook this or quickly glance and miss the obvious. In reality, it might read “amzon.com”—something close enough to trick most users.
Scammers sometimes redirect to the genuine site anyway, lulling victims into a false sense of complacency. The unsuspecting never realise they’ve downloaded malware.
Are the Images Pixelated?
Here’s proof that not everything is as it seems: images might be pixelated on different devices, as scammers don’t always use high-quality pictures. This practice extends to logos. Big-name companies won’t send pixelated versions of their brands. So if elements appear fuzzy, it’s very much possible the scammer has stolen a low-resolution logo from the internet.
If images won’t load, this is a sign the message could be fraudulent. Of course, that could be due to connectivity issues. However, just because pictures are HD cannot convince you that an email is genuine.
Take a look on Google, and you’ll find large files containing all manner of corporate logos. Regrettably, if you can find it online, so can cybercriminals.
Are There Spelling and Punctuation Mistakes?
Spelling and punctuation mistakes are something to look out for when skimming through supposed competitions via email and social media, and any linked websites. Any self-respecting company would employ a copywriter or editor to make sure their communications are well-written. It’s a level of professionalism that scammers are least bothered about. You don’t need strong acumen in Creative Writing to recognise poor spelling and grammar.
If a Facebook profile brags that you can “Win Free Gift Cards!!!!!”, don’t trust it. eBay desist from using hyperbolic punctuation too. If its About page uses similarly problematic copy, perish the thought of “liking” the page.
Does It Require Random Personal Details?
Fraudsters don’t always rely on you clicking on links. Ransomware can be installed onto your computer, but many of the gullible happily volunteer their details anyway.
You might be redirected to a login page that looks a lot like the real deal. You’ll enter your username and password- and rue it.
But even if you don’t type in your password, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t value other details. On the contrary, they might turn out to be equally crucial.
So ask yourself: why would they need your social security number? Why do they ask for your date of birth? What information does the company the questionnaire is claiming to be from already have about you?
Simply “liking” a page on Facebook can be dangerous. “Like” farming scams encourage you to share posts to win gift cards and other free goodies. You put at risk your usernames, financial information, and other personal data stored in associated apps (like WhatsApp and Instagram).
Is the Message Personalised?
It’s delightful that your aunt and uncle have sent you a message about winning a gift card by simply clicking on a link or retweeting a post.
Then again – why don’t they talk like normal human beings?
Cybercriminals use impersonal messages to perpetuate a scam because it’d be a bit too strange if they addressed them all to “Chris” or “Emma”. It’s also a tell-tale sign that it’s not really from someone you care about.
Some scams will be directly aimed at you, using your email address and username in their attempt to appear personal. But it would be best if you still recognised when a relative isn’t using their habitual syntax. If you read it and something doesn’t feel right, trust your instincts.
Do You Know of Any Previous Winners?
The answer is, once more, “no”. It’s unlikely that your family or friends have won a gift card via social media. When have you ever known a genuine claim? Occasionally, companies do offer gifts, including cards, so you can’t immediately discount them. There ought still be lists of winners, though.
When the website standing for a legitimate business runs competitions, it publishes the winners’ names as proof that they’re authentic. Other sites can rightly be expected to do the same. If they can’t prove that visitors benefited from a giveaway, why should you trust them?
There is a distinction between genuine winners and the type of comments you’ll find on social media. You’ll notice fake accounts saying inane things like, “Thank You, Walmart!!! I Won $500 And Helped Me Pay For Xmas!” Yes, they’ll likely all be in capital letters and parading their poor grammar.
That’s not to say you should ignore Twitter and other social networks. Plenty of feeds highlight scams to alert their followers. Nonetheless, never underrate disgruntled tweets.
Does It Sound Too Good to Be True?
Here’s one last tip which should apply to everything you do online: ask yourself whether something is too good to be true. Then, if you’ve got doubts, trust your gut.
Eschew clicking on links in emails. Stay sceptical when you visit Facebook and Twitter.
The con artist initiates the gift card scams through random phone calls, text messages, or mailings. In some cases, the scam artist claims to promote the gift card on behalf of a major company. In other cases, the finagler promises a gift card for completing a survey. The goal of the scam artist is simple:
- Get personal financial information and sell it to thieves.
- Steal the identity of the victim.
- Charge people money for things they do not need.
This scam only works if the consumer decides to participate. If you get the call, remember the phrase: “There is no such thing as a free lunch.” Hang up the phone. Do not respond to dubious mailings or messages. Should you be in need of assistance, however, Fast Action Refund (https://fastactionrefund.com/) would gladly help.