Technology has opened its door to many things. We can communicate faster, stay in touch more frequently, and quickly obtain our household needs. As good as this is, it comes with a price. Through the combination of online shopping sites and social media, free product scams fool would-be consumers at an alarming rate.
How free product scams work
Free product scams work by blending the technologies of several different platforms. What begins as an offer for a free item, turns into the classic bait and switch. Below is a full explanation of the process.
Part 1: Amazon Amazon, as a platform, depends on a rating system. The higher a seller’s rating, the more likely Amazon will suggest their product. When a buyer searches for an item, the results show listings with the highest customer satisfaction first.
Part 2: The Bait Scammers create advertisements on social media and use them as bait. They boast free products and other incentives, typically on Facebook or Instagram. At the bottom of these ads, there is a button shortcut for private messaging. Not everyone that comes across the ad will push it; however, fraudsters exploit the ones that do.
Part 3: The Switch Once someone allows private messaging, they receive an automated message with details on how to obtain their free product. The request directs the scam victim to purchase the product on Amazon and create a positive review as a verified buyer. Using the message prompts, the buyer is led to believe that they will get a full refund once their transaction is complete. The scam happens because the individual never receives their money back.
Avoiding scams and chatbot fraud
Fraudsters use chatbots to automate interactions during these scams. They can employ an entire messaging sequence with remarkably little effort. Since setting up is easy, the number of free product scams has grown. Scammers earn higher sales as well as good reviews, making full incentives for them to continue their trickery.
To protect yourself, use caution. Never purchase anything without researching the company, especially when it is advertised as free. Furthermore, pay attention to the reviews on Amazon. If you notice a company with exceedingly high remarks on every single sale, it could be a red flag. Impulsive decisions are your enemy, regardless of the price. Another common feature of these offers is their limited time. If you really want a new necklace or other items, it’s better to do so at your own pace.
Be sure to stay wary of offers that seem too good to be true; they often are. The United States Government runs down a list of other common scams. Stay informed into this holiday season, and keep your wallets safe. Achieva also offers excellent fraud detection 24 hours a day; another perk of being a valued Achieva Credit Union member.