I received three notifications from Facebook from someone named Sean Ritchie. Basically, he was pushing a scam that led Facebook users to believe they could sign up to get a free $500 gift card from Cotsco.
The links led you to something called My Free Costo.com. Paul Latham a weary sounding Costco executive told me he’d never hear of the $500 offer, or the site. He said, “These things happen all of the time. It’s so easy to to put up scams on the Internet and it’s difficult to track down the scammers.
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It looks like the posting is removed from Facebook now. But it has popped up before and who know what will happen in the future. It does remind us of the need to watch out for these two-good-to-be-true deals. While you think you are signing up for something great and may have the chance of lifetime, you’re actually giving a scammer access to your personal information. That can be disastrous.
Scammers tell you that you will get something for free, but first you need to give them bank information, or social security numbers, or access to other personal information.
They can clean out your bank account, or use your information in identify theft frauds. Often, when scammers promise to give you something, they ask for money to help secure your “free prize.” Once you sent the money, you either get a bunch of junk mail or nothing at all.
Disreputable companies sometimes use a variation of an official or nationally recognized name to give you confidence in their offers. Don’t be deceived by these “look-alikes.” It’s illegal for a promoter to misrepresent an affiliation with — or an endorsement by — a government agency or other well-known organization.
It’s important to read any written solicitation you receive carefully. Pay particularly close attention to the fine print. Remember the old adage that “the devil is in the details.”
Some contest promoters use a toll-free “800” number that directs you to dial a pay-per-call “900” number. Charges for calls to “900” numbers may be very high.
Disclosing your checking account or credit card account number over the phone in response to a sweepstakes promotion — or for any reason other than to buy the product or service being sold — is a sure-fire way to get scammed in the future.
As the winner of 22 Emmy Awards and a slew of journalism honors and awards, I created ConsumerMojo.com to give you the straight story about complicated stuff. Tell us what you want to know and we'll get you the answers.
View all posts by Barbara Nevins Taylor