As a frugal living and deals blogger, I spend my days hunting for legitimate offers to share with you. Over the years, I’ve reported many amazing genuine deals and freebies. In many cases, I or one of my team members will take the time to do the deal first and/or take other steps to verify the validity of what we’re posting.
How to Spot a Fake Facebook Offer
Today I’d like to talk something I’ve talked about before, because I’m seeing it crop up again. The topic? Fake Facebook freebies. I would like to arm you with three pro tips for identifying them yourself in hopes that collectively, we can STOP spreading scammers’ mission to infiltrate your personal information (or make money of any kind). After that, I’d like to tell you about a few of the legitimate offers I’ve seen from most frequently listed companies (airlines, Disney, and Costco). Sound good? Let’s go.
Tip #1: Look at the URL and/or related Facebook page.
A legitimate offer should have a URL that makes sense for the company. Let’s take a closer look at our Southwest Air offer.
Guys, that is clearly not the official Southwest website. I did take the time to briefly look it up, and it is a shell of a website that prompts you to enter your information (I’m not linking to it for obvious reasons). Furthermore, visiting the official website, Southwest.com, you’ll see NO mention of their anniversary or free ticket giveaway.
In this particular case, I didn’t see a fake Facebook profile associated, but sometimes there are. Look – if you’re dealing with a huge company (think Southwest, Costco, Disney) – it’s going to have a verified Facebook account.
What you’re looking for is that little blue checkmark. I also see that there are over 5 million likes on this page. If THIS Facebook page starts sharing something amazing, I’ll pay attention. (Often, a good place to look is under the Facebook page’s “events” section.) Now if a page South West AIRlines FREE Tickets page with 300 likes pops up in my news feed? I’ll likely just move along (after reporting the page!). Which leads me to my next point…
Tip #2: Look at the grammar and spelling, particularly of the company.
When I visit Southwest’s official website, I see the correct spelling of their brand is “Southwest Airlines.” Take a look at the offer in question again:
This is almost laughable (OK it IS laughable). These scammers put so much effort into launching this fake freebie, but not nearly enough effort into double checking the correct spelling of the company name. Trust me, companies care deeply about all those capitalizations and if it’s “Air” or “Airline” or “Airlines” because it’s all about branding and trademark.
Beyond this, the headline is completely juvenile with random capitalizations and exclamation marks. Ask yourself: if Southwest really were to launch this kind of a huge campaign, don’t you think they’d take the time to hire a copywriter? Or at the very least, an editor? I mean, they’re willing to shell out millions for free tickets after all, right?
Tip #3: Try verifying any of the information before sharing.
I’m guessing that tips #1 and #2 should thoroughly prevent you from sharing a fake freebie on Facebook. But, if you’re still confused, I urge you to try to verify any portion of the freebie before sharing. How could you do this? Message or call the company from their official Facebook page or toll-free number and ask.
In this case, I didn’t even need to go that far. Since this was advertised as an 88th anniversary freebie, I decided to see when Southwest was founded. This was easily accomplished on a basic Wikipedia search:
Southwest was founded in 1967, meaning it would be celebrating its 50th year anniversary this year, not 88th.
Legitimate Offers I’ve Seen Before
I’d like to end this post by giving you some examples of legitimate freebies I’ve seen from major companies. Understanding typical promotions large companies run may help you in identifying the fakes.
- Costco and Sam’s Club sometimes offer new customer sign-up specials with free coupons and gift cards (usually in the $20-25 range). They have never offered $500 gift cards “just because” they want to be nice.
- Southwest and other airline carriers offer free miles when you sign up for credit card offers. I’ve written about this before, because I’ve personally taken advantage and can vouch for this method.
- I do see and have reported killer flight specials, including $49 fares on Southwest and $15 from Frontier. In all these cases the fares were advertised on and to be purchased from official websites.
- Disney has NOT offered free passes for the masses, but they sure seem to be the target of many free Facebook scams. I’ve seen Disney offer free tickets in exchange for doing a community service project, but this was years ago. I believe if you volunteer at a RunDisney event you can also get a free ticket. The key point here is that free tickets at Disney are usually given in exchange for something very specific, to key groups of people. Occasionally, they will offer sweepstakes for lucky winners. I would look for these kind of entries from official Disney or partner sites ONLY. If you have any doubt, please follow my Disney page or reach out to my friend Mike, who is a travel agent specializing in Disney. He can quickly put any of those concerns to bed for you.
Often I’ll see friends share these kind of fake Facebook offers with a statement along the lines of “well, can’t hurt to try, can it?” I’d argue, it may hurt. When you share a fake offer like that, who knows what the end result may be. At the very least, you’re spreading something that may get folks’ hopes falsely up. At the very worst, it’s possible you’re exposing your Facebook profile and friends’ list to someone with very bad intentions.
I know these offers can be alluring, but I hope I’ve armed you with some helpful information today. If you have questions on something specific you’re seeing, you can always leave a comment here or email me at angela @ thecouponproject dot com and I will do my best to help weigh in if it’s share-worthy (and post-worthy!) or a complete hoax. And, I hope you’ll continue (or start!) to follow along my page for legitimate, honest deals you can feel 100% good about doing and sharing. Thanks, friends.
I’d love to hear your questions, concerns, stories, tips. Fire away in the comments below!