Have you been seeing “win free cars” posts on Facebook? Are they setting off Facebook scam alarms in your head? The confusing truth is that some Facebook car giveaways are scams while others are legit. The difference may come down to the page hosting the sweepstakes.
How do you tell a Facebook sweepstakes scam?
Many scammers post fake sweepstakes on Facebook. These posts promise a chance to win a free car or another luxurious item if you like and share the post–and go like a seemingly unrelated page.
Facebook sweepstakes scams are relatively easy to spot once you know what the scammers want. According to Snopes, most Facebook contest scammers are trying to quickly build fan pages with a ton of likes that they can sell to companies or use for independent advertising.
One ingenious way to build a fan page is to write a bogus contest. The contest instructions direct Facebook users to like and share the original post, so more people enter. But it differs from legitimate contests by also directing Facebook users to go like/follow an unrelated page.
The scammers then post this contest on an established page with many followers. Their goal is to get all the followers of that established page to follow the new page. They may hope that those followers friends also get excited about a free new car and follow the new page too.
How to tell a legit Facebook car giveaway
Facebook scammers have been known to create fake car giveaways. In addition, car dealerships do host legitimate car giveaways. The difference sometimes comes down to the account that originally created the giveaway post.
Legitimate Facebook car giveaway sweepstakes are also easy to spot if you know what the dealership’s end goal is. A dealership hosting such a contest is giving away an entire car, in exchange for a ton of visibility, and new followers on Facebook.
The dealership hosting the sweepstakes will often require any contestants to like the original post and leave a comment. This will signal to Facebook that it is an engaging post which the website should show to more people.
In addition, the dealership giving away the car will often ask interested contestants to share the post in their own feed. It does this so all the contestants friends and family also see the post, engage with it, and perhaps follow the dealership too.
The dealership may ask contestants to follow its own page before considering them for the sweepstake. But it is highly unlikely that a dealership hosting a legitimate sweepstakes will require contestants to follow an unrelated page. This would just be a hassle to contestants and not benefit the dealership.
Is liking and sharing a car giveaway contest dangerous?
The experts at Snopes did not name any bogus Facebook car giveaways with ulterior motives more nefarious than gathering likes and follows. It is not especially likely that you will have your identity stolen or computer hacked by liking and sharing a scam post.
That said, it’s fairly easy to cover your bases. If you see a dealership-hosted car giveaway that looks suspicious, you can pick up the phone and call the dealership in question. Simply ask any salesperson whether the dealership is hosting a giveaway on Facebook and find out once-and-for-all whether the post is legit or a scam.
Alternatively, you can always search for an inexpensive used car on Facebook marketplace.