Facebook ads - every Facebook user has come across one or more of them, at some point. And the best about those ads (supposedly) is the fact that they have been tailored to your likes and interests.
Marketers and business owners can track likes and clicks to promote products that can actually drive their sales and users are able to find good deals for products they actually want or like, with little effort.
It seems to be the perfect arrangement, and for the most part, it is. Unfortunately, more and more Facebook scam ads are popping up on people’s feeds, leaving them with no product or a crappy version of it, and no refund.
It has damaging effects not only on people’s wallets, but also on the reputation level of all the Facebook advertisers, who have a legitimate business and have invested their time and money in promoting their products to the right audience.
The Modus Operandi
The scam usually hides behind an alluring ad that promises a great product, at a very good price. The fake ads that make the Facebook rounds sell everything from cosmetics, clothing, accessories, health supplements, and even products for pets.
As the scammers become more advanced, it becomes more and more difficult to tell the difference between what’s real and what’s fake. By using professional photos and security certificates on their site, they look like the real deal, convincing even skeptical shoppers.
However, if the order arrives at all, it’s nothing like the photos or the video you saw in the ad or on their website. And good luck getting in touch with the company. There’s very little chance that you’ll get your money back.
You may wonder why Facebook allows those ads to run in the first place. After all, it’s their advertising platform.
Despite the “report ad” button, there isn’t really any immediate action. Even though Facebook claimed it does already take down “huge amounts of these ads”, the company also admitted that its ad review systems are “not perfect”.
It comes down to taking your own measures to protect yourself.
Tips to protect yourself against Facebook scam ads
There are ways to protect yourself from buying into Facebook scam ads. Know what to look for and what to check to decide which ads you can confidently click through to make a purchase.
1. It’s too good to be true
You know how the saying goes...if it looks too good to be true, it probably is.
It’s definitely tempting, but If the advertiser is selling you a $20 dress that looks like it should cost much more, proceed with caution. It could be a real promotion, but it could also be a low-quality knockoff.
2. Contact information
Make sure the business you’re buying from has contact details - email, phone number, address - so that you can get in touch with their customer service or fix any problem you might have after the purchase.
Next, check if the contact details are real - is the address in fact a real place? Does the phone number work? Did they reply to your email?
If you can’t find any contact details on their Facebook page or on their website besides Facebook messenger, be wary.
3. Comments and reviews
Do your research before buying with an advertised company. Visit the advertiser’s Facebook page to check for reviews or comments and see if anyone else has bought from them and what the experience was.
If there are 0 negative comments or reviews, it’s a red flag. Some scammers even create more than one Facebook page under similar names to filter out any bad reviews and comments from previous customers.
Additionally, google the advertiser to find reviews on websites such as trustpilot.com, for more information.
4. Secure payments
Confirm if the payment process is done through a secure connection.
Check if the website’s URL starts with “https” and has a lock icon next to it (SSL certificate). Any website that doesn’t have an SSL certificate is a danger to the security and privacy of users who submit credit card data, social security numbers, usernames, passwords and search terms to a site.
Also, avoid using your debit card for online purchases. A credit card will give you more protection if it ends up being a scam.
5. Customer Service and Shipping
The advertiser should provide shipping costs and delivery time upfront, so that the buyer knows what to expect. Scammers may provide the dispatch time, which is very different from the shipping time.
Also, confirm if the business has a clear return and refund policy, stating the time frame for returns and if the return shipping is free or charged to the customer. Sometimes, the cost to return an internationally shipped product is more than the price you actually paid for it.
- Scams will often try to get you to act before thinking twice by creating a sense of urgency. Make sure you can verify the legitimacy of the offer before handing over any personal information.
- Don’t trust advertisers who use blurred or low quality images and don’t provide clear product information such as dimensions and size charts.
- If you want to get rid of the problem completely, you can remove ads from Facebook by using quality, third-party software.
Have you ever been scammed on Facebook? Share this with friends, family and colleagues you think might be vulnerable to Facebook scam ads.