What You Need To Know About All Fraud Regarding Gratuities
One of the biggest blessings of the Internet is the plethora of freebies and amazing online deals that can be found. We mean the real ones. While many of the free sample or giveaway offers you’ll find online are legitimate, there are plenty of scammers hiding behind the guise of real, no-strings-attached offers.
Today, we focus on three critical types of freebie fraud to look out for when browsing the Internet: read on to find out how to spot and avoid them, and how to find the real freebies. Feel free to share your experience in the Comments section at the end of the article. Whether they are Instagram scams, Facebook Marketplace scams, or just Twitter offers, we want to hear from you.
Below are the three types of freebie scams we want to share with you.
1. Companies Offering You Money Back for an Honest Product Review
You have read the title right. It happens on Amazon. These are often known as ‘rebate’ offers, and the way they work is by charging you upfront for the cost of the item, with the promise that they will give a full refund once you’ve completed a review of the product on Amazon.
The reason these kinds of offers are troublesome is that they directly violate Amazon’s rules around customer reviews. Amazon clearly states that sellers may not provide a refund for a review, which includes reimbursement via a non-Amazon payment method.
However, in most cases, people haven’t even received a refund from the seller, meaning the item was not free at all.
Unfortunately, if Amazon catches the seller, you could also be at risk for having your Amazon account suspended – even if you are not at guilt.
Most of these scams pop up on Facebook through sponsored ads. Keep your eyes wide open for posts that sound like any of the below. They often include a button to ‘send a message’ so the brand can message you directly about the offer, like this:
2. Free Trials with Hidden Clauses
Free trials can be a fantastic way to try out different products and services for no cost, to see if you like them enough to pay full price.
When applying for a free trial offer, always be sure to read the small print. Some sites will claim the item is 100% free with no strings attached, but they may have a sneaky hidden clause that says you will be automatically enrolled into a monthly subscription, with no way to cancel.
A red flag can be when you’re asked to share bank card details – however some offers genuinely will store your card details but still allow you to cancel after your free sample, simply give the terms a read to find out what the company’s policy is.
If you choose to go ahead with the free trial offer, be sure to use a credit card if anything goes wrong, it’s much easier to get your money back through a credit card company.
We have seen an increase in fraudulent activities over the last few months in skincare and self-improvement niches. For example, beware of hair restoration scams, teeth whitening scams, weight loss scams, and general skincare scams.
3. Fake Social Media Accounts Posing as Real Brands
This method is not new, but it still happens a lot this year. The fake accounts have been around since the Internet was invented. Social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter are so accessible that they’ve unwittingly become breeding grounds for scammers creating fake profiles to entice you with freebie offers. You can even see a lot of similar TikTok scams.
The best way to avoid wasting your time or handing over any personal information to someone who might abuse it is to follow a few key steps. The “Facebook Freebie” may not be free, after all.
Ask yourself if the deal sounds too good to be true, for example, if the brand name is not particularly renowned, but they’re claiming to give away something expensive like a car or some tech – have a look for some T&Cs to find a trail back to an official website.
If you can’t find a website linked to the social media account, that’s a red flag. You can also quickly check for a blue tick next to the brand name, as this is an instance where Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter has verified that the profile is the official account of a brand or public figure.
For example, a company like Ryanair would have a blue tick, so you can instantly assume this is a scam:
What Does a Genuine Freebie Look Like?
Freebies exist because businesses want to get their products in front of consumers, and consumers want to be able to try before they buy – it’s as simple as that. There are plenty of genuine freebies out there – the best places to look are websites like Magic Freebies, who test out each offer before sharing.
Keep your eyes peeled for SoPost freebies, often shared in communities like the Freebie Facebook Group.
Brand Names That Embrace the Freebie Approach
Some of the best brand names for these kinds of freebies are Estee Lauder, Origins, Olay, Rituals, and many other beauty brands. Companies like Boots and The Body Shop often announce new freebie giveaways in their newsletters, so it’s also worth signing up to mailing lists to hear about free samples straight away. You can always rest easy knowing these offers are 100% genuine.
If you buy a lot of branded food and drink, it’s always worth checking to see if there are giveaways that only require a barcode to apply. Of course, this means a purchase necessary, rending the item, not 100% free. Still, brands like Cadbury, Pringles, and Nestle often run giveaways of literally thousands of free prizes, so your chances of receiving a freebie are solid.
An effortless way to get your hands on free food and drink is to download cashback apps like Shopmium, CheckoutSmart, and GreenJinn. These shopping apps will often have a few products listed for 100% free – all you need to do is buy the qualifying product at a participating store, snap a photo of your receipt and the packaging, and guaranteed 100% of your money back on that item.
The Freebie Scam: How To Report It
Let your family and friends know about this article by sharing it on social media using the buttons provided. You can also officially report the scammers to the Federal Trade Commission using the link below:
How To Prevent Identity Theft and More
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