Being told you’ve won a competition may sound like great news at first, but think back – do you even remember entering one?
Earlier this year we received a message from a member of the public who enters a lot of competitions on Facebook. She told us that she’d received a direct message from an account that looked just like Currys PC World, saying that she’d won a television and a set of Bluetooth speakers.
The messages asked her to confirm her name, mobile number and delivery address, which she did. But later she was asked for her card details to cover the cost of delivering the ‘prizes’, at which point she fortunately realised that something wasn’t right.
But should she be worried about the details she’d already shared with the fraudsters?
Convincing copycat accounts
Fraudsters can create convincing copycat social media accounts to contact victims, claiming they’ve won a prize. They target people based on social media activity and interests, and they can catch you out with offers that make sense in the moment.
We’ve seen a very similar scam before involving a fake competition to win a 65″ TV. A spokesperson for Currys at the time told us that fake accounts are immediately reported to the appropriate platforms and closed down. It said customers should only engage with its verified accounts, which carry the ‘blue tick’ badge.
In this case, it rang alarm bells when the scammers asked the victim to pay, and rightly so. Big brands wouldn’t expect a competition winner to pay for the cost of delivering a prize.
It’s possible the victims’ payment details would then have been used for something else.
Verify your private messages
You should always check to see who’s really sending you private messages. Is it a verified brand account? Do you remember entering the competition?
If you’re unsure, contact the company’s customer services on a verifiable number and ask whether it’s genuine. It’s unlikely much harm will come from the details given away in this case, but we advised the member of the public to regularly check her credit report for unrecognised accounts, and watch out for unexpected bills.
In these situations you could also join the Cifas Protective Registration service, which sends an alert if your details are used to sign up for financial products.
Have you ever been sent a private message on social media out of the blue, telling you you’ve won a competition or anything else? Let us know in the comments and help keep friends and family safe online by spreading the word.